Rice Market: Futures Played Hokey Pokey This Week – In, Out, Sideways
WMP factors were lowered by USDA this week – by 9 cents on both the long grain rough factor and the medium/short grain factor. The on-farm WMP value of long grain rough is now $12.06 per cwt.
Rice futures moved sideways, inside, and outside this week. The market finished with the nearby Sep contract settling at 15.775, up 17 on the day and 21.5 on the week. It continued to push back and forth, as the shorts and the technical traders tried to make out just what the market wants to do. Friday’s action left the distinct impression that the shorts want out but are trying not to push too hard and get a panic started.
There will, however, be well over 2,000 Sep contract (long and shorts) to start next week, and we believe that at least some of the longs will want to take delivery on Thursday/Friday – and that’s when things will really get tricky for the shorts if they have not covered by then. There may not be any fireworks, but at this juncture, we don’t see how they can be avoided without some commercial letting the shorts out of their electronic positions next week, since there are only 103 certificates still showing for physical delivery in Chicago – and those may not be there next week.
We can’t remember the last time rice futures inverted like they are now, with the Sep contract at 15.775 now being 19.5 cents over the Nov at 15.58. There is certainly no guarantee that the squeeze will happen, but the stars do seem to be lining up. Whatever happens, we recommend not being short rice futures for at least the next week. We also recommend trading this and all futures markets with care and good cash management.
Continuing the good start to the new marketing year, this week’s net export sales showed 63,700 tons registered with USDA.
Mexico and Honduras started the ball rolling with 9,800 tons of long grain rough between them. In the milled and brown columns, 39,800 tons were sold primarily to Haiti (16,700 tons), Ghana (12,500 tons), Mexico (6,300 tons), Saudi Arabia (2,200 tons), and the Leeward and Windward Islands (1,300 tons of brown). Medium/short paddy was sold to Turkey to the tune of 12,000 tons, while sales of milled this week totaled only 2,100 tons to various destinations.
Export shipments for the week came in at 30,600 tons, including a small shipment of long grain rough to Mexico (1,600 tons). Long grain milled liftings were 11,400 tons with Haiti, Mexico, and Guinea-Conakry being the main consignees. Medium/short grain rough moved 1,300 tons to Mexico and the Netherlands, and 4,500 tons of brown to South Korea. Medium/short milled loaded out a total of 11,600 tons mostly to south Korea (4,500 tons), Jordan (3,500 tons), Canada (1,100 tons), and Israel (700 tons).
Prices in Asia, particularly in Thailand, eased this week. Thai 100% Grade B is now down to $435 per ton fob vessel, and parboiled has slipped to $475 per ton. Viet 5% is down $10 to $385 per ton. Pakistan’s 5% milled backed off to $410 per ton, while Pakistani parboiled eased to $430 per ton. India’s prices were also lower, with 5% long grain milled at $420 per ton and parboiled at $410 per ton. Thailand’s foolishly handled paddy buying scheme as brought some of this pressure to the market.
The ICE Dec and Mar contracts gave back 160 and 87 points on the week, respectively, as last week’s inversion between the two contracts gave way to partial carry. Well,