Rice Market: Trade Picks Up Ahead of End of Year Lull

The business year is rapidly drawing to a close and the rice industry seems set on making the best of the remaining days as last-minute business deals wrap up and the trade itself prepares to enter the holiday season. Export sales for the week were back up into the 70,000 MT range again after last week’s down report.

Buyers appear to be taking advantage of both currency exchange rates and also the opportunity to finish the year’s buying needs in short order. If this trend continues, it is very possible to see continued positive shifts to the export sales numbers into next week.

Vessel loadings continue apace as well with large volumes of old sales moving overseas rapidly. This is widely considered to be a good thing as it helps to keep the industry moving and facilitates price discovery.

Asian prices are virtually unchanged since the last report. This stagnation of pricing underscores the lack of fundamental forces impacting the market and while the spread between Asian and U.S. origins remains wide, the gap has not significantly grown of recent date. USDA kept its world market price estimate unchanged in the current weekly estimate. With very little to trade on, it is possible that this will extend into next week’s reporting.

The world agricultural supply and demand estimate (WASDE) will be released next week (the last one for the calendar year) which may have an impact on these numbers.

Domestically, the cash markets have pretty much gone dormant with virtually no changes in most areas. Firm quality and quantity numbers are becoming more available and the reports suggest that quality ranges widely depending on area and quantity is said to be high.

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The futures market for the week was mixed, with the nearby contracts trading into negative country, while deferred contracts held on to the positive gains noted in the past several weeks. Much of this is largely a reflection of the pending holidays when very little will happen and more importantly, the marketing decisions that growers will be faced with after the first of the year.

The biggest factor regarding marketing is what volume and quality will hit the market from the Upper Delta due to cash flow and tax management requirements. As was previously mentioned, the WASDE will be released next week and only minor revisions are expected. It is probable that the export numbers will see some adjustments as will yields with the corresponding changes to ending stocks that these revisions cause.

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