Rice Market: Government Shutdown Delays USDA Numbers

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The New Year has dawned, bringing with it very little news and even fewer changes in the rice market than was experienced in the days leading up to the Christmas Holidays. Even as the trade begins to wake up after an uneventful new year, much of the public information remains unavailable due to the shutdown of the U.S. government.

This specifically includes the export sales report, the world market price estimate, and the monthly WASDE report will also likely be delayed. These omissions in reporting will undoubtedly cause some market adjustments when governmental functions resume. Until then, the market will have to trade on rumor and perception.

Based on trading activity, exports appear to continue apace with reasonable levels noted prior to Christmas. The 70,000-80,000 MT figures may be a bit on the high side but the actual number is unlikely to fall below 50,000 when it is released.

There being no major market moves globally in the past few weeks, it is also unlikely that there will be any major adjustment to the world market price estimate.

Asian benchmark pricing has been fairly constant since the last report. The moderate changes in value that have occurred in those origins is largely attributable to currency fluctuations and the inherent volatility seen in financial markets over the past weeks. 

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Domestically, the market has had very little to trade against and as such has experienced very little change. Along the Gulf Coast, the second crop is being dried and graded at this time with mixed results.

The rice that saw a timely first crop harvest is generally seeing acceptable milling quality, while the later rice that was impacted more severely by the cold weather is reporting head yields in the mid 40’s. With many growers actively looking to cash flow some 2019 inputs, the market should see a bit more action in the coming weeks and at varied levels.

The futures market has had some positive movement over the past week with all of the active contracts on the board trading into positive territory. With the January contract preparing to exit the board, some rolling action between the January and March contracts is to be expected, but the net positive returns over the week are a definite positive factor.

Until more trading takes place, the market will likely remain in stagnation but with some luck, there will be more to discuss in the coming weeks.

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