WORLD COARSE GRAINS SITUATION AND OUTLOOK
Mid-February export quotes for U.S. corn (FOB Gulf) were $114 before easing slightly later in the month. As export sales registrations increased, however, prices began to rise, with quotes for nearby shipment reaching $118 per ton by mid-March. Even as U.S. corn prices rose, export quotes for Argentine corn softened under pressure from the upcoming monster harvest. Quotes (FOB Rosario) fell from $107 per ton in mid-February to $100 in mid-March.
Forecast world trade in coarse grains was reduced 800,000 tons this month, to 89.1 million tons. Estimated trade levels for both barley and corn were reduced, down 800,000 and 100,000 tons respectively. Coarse grains production in 1997/98 is expected to reach the second highest level on record, at 896 million tons (up 3 million tons from last month). Meanwhile, forecast coarse grain consumption, while still a record, was lowered this month to 901 million tons and global ending stocks are forecast up 10 million tons from last months estimate, at 115 million tons.
World trade in corn is forecast at 64.2 million tons in 1997/98, down 100,000 tons from last month. Estimated world production was increased four million tons this month, to 583 million tons, while consumption was lowered 1 million tons to 595 million.
Estimated world barley trade was reduced this month to 14.9 million tons, down 800,000 tons from last months estimate. Global barley consumption is estimated 3 million tons lower this month, at 150 million tons, while global ending stocks are forecast at 29 million tons, a year-to-year increase of 5 million tons.
EU barley exports are estimated at 4.0 million tons, down from 5.0 million last month. Weakening demand, combined with cut-rate pricing of Russian and East European barley exports, confronts the EU with the need to offer extremely large subsidies in order to compete in feed barley markets. As prices soften, Russias share of the market increases, with exports forecast at 2 million tons.
Hungarian corn exports are estimated to reach 1.5 million tons, up from the previous estimate of 1.2 million. It is expected that export licenses, now set to expire on April 1, will be renewed, allowing exports to continue through the summer. Continued exports by Hungary and Romania will further dampen exports by Yugoslavia, already depressed by low-priced regional competition, and now forecast to reach only 500,000 tons, down from the previous estimate of 1.0 million tons.
Barley imports by China are estimated at 1.5 million tons, down from 2.0 million last month. Extremely heavy imports of malting barley in 1996/97 inflated local stocks and have depressed import demand. Japans imports of barley are also estimated lower this month, down to 1.6 million tons from the previous estimate of 1.75 million tons. The heavy import levels of last fall have slowed considerably in recent months.
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