Corn & Wheat Bulletin Number 3

World’s corn and wheat production is bigger-than-expected while Australia is drying up!


Australian Wheat:

Australia will import its first shipment of wheat in 12 years as a drought dramatically decreased the output of the grain world’s fourth largest exporter forcing it to buy cargoes from Canada. Many farmers have been forced to delay planting or to choose to sow into dry soils with a higher risk of crop failure. Australia’s forecasters announced in March that production would rally 40 percent however little rains, private forecasters trimmed their estimates. Australia’s traditional customers such as Indonesia (the world’s second biggest importer of wheat) have turned to Russia and Ukraine to buy record volumes.

World’s Wheat:

The Black Sea region, Europe and North America are expecting an increased production (bigger than expected) for the 2019/20 crop which will be harvest around the middle of this year, likely depressing prices.

Trade war and USDA’s aid to farmers:

The USDA recently paid 8.52 billion dollars to farmers designed to offset losses from trade tariffs by China and as talks fell short last week, the Trump administration is working on a second aid program to support farmers. The commodities that received aid were of course soybeans and, corn, wheat, cotton and sorghum.

Wheat global production is also high

As shown in the graph, the expected production of wheat for the harvest 19/20 is higher than the 2 past years with 777.49 mio MT for 19/20, 731.55 mio MT for 18/19 and 762.24 for 17/18.
This has result of a current ending stock higher than usual with 293 mio MT.
Many different producing countries are currently having trouble to sell their grains such as the US. Indeed, Dan Roose, president of the US commodities said “We’re swimming in grain.”

US corn grower are currently facing financial difficulties

As previously explained, many farmer in the US are highly impacted by the trade war between China and the US.

Due to this situation, US corn growers are putting pressure on Trump for a better traitement of his USD 15bio China trade aid plan.

To face this issue, M. Trump has previously made a consequent subsidy to his farmer of 8.52 billion of USD. However, the National Corn Growers Association sent out a call to action urging farmers to tell Trump that the 1 cent-per-bushel payment that growers received under the prior market facilitation payments wasn’t enough.
Trump has announced on Friday that he will take in consideration the opinion of the farmers. He has recently asked the Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue to work on a plan for solving this issue.

Corn supply remains stronger than previous years even with the US recent flood problems

Even though the recent problem in flood in the US which was supposed to lead to a decrease in the future crops, it seems that the production has slightly risen from 1’119 Mio MT in may 18-19 to 1’133 mio MT in may 19-20 in the world. The US hasn’t been really impacted by the recent floods and has done even better than last year. On a world basis it seems that most countries are doing well with the production of corn except Ukraine which has increased the quantity planted of Wheat and decrease the amount planted of corn.

The Ending stock of corn remains in the average in comparison from last years. It is 2 months before the harvest period of corn which happens from July to september.

Trader point of view

From a trader’s point of view, because there is an increase in production compared to last year, prices for the next harvest have decreased. So, trading companies have interest to sell their stock and are actively concerned by this price change, because they have bought their products more expensive than they are currently worth. And if we compare last year’s prices at the same time, we see that there is a very clear loss. For example, the spot price approximately worth 440 cent per bushel last year compared to 376 at the same time last year for corn.

As you can see above, forwards curves for wheat and corn are quite special as they are always/often in contango.

This fact is due that it has to always cover the cost of carry to give the incentive to the farmer to keep growing this agricultural product. May to July are the only months when the contango becomes less steep for wheat.

This is due to the harvest period and the market is full of new crop. However for the corn, it is from July to September that the supply become huge and takes over the demand.

Finally, when the market become more bullish as the demand is higher, the forward curve becomes in backwardation. This feature is very typical for agricultural goods.

-LNG Bulletin #3

Trade news

Exxon Mobil’s project in Mozambique

On 14th May 2019, the project of Exxon Mobil to develop business of LNG in Mozambique was approved by the country’s government. Exxon Mobil, the U.S. oil giant, took charge of the East African LNG project’s onshore operations following a $2.8 billion deal with Italy’s Eni in 2017. This project called “The Rovuma LNG project” is expected to produce, liquefy and market natural gas from three reservoirs located in the Area 4 block offshore Mozambique.

Qatargas and its vessel in the Panama Canal

Qatargas, the world’s largest LNG producer, announced on the 13th of May 2019 that Al Safliya, a Q-Flex vessel with a cargo carrying capacity of 210,000 cbm of LNG, completed the 82-kilometer transit on May 12th through the Panama Canal. This is the first Q-Flex type carrier and the largest LNG vessel (315 meter long and 50 meter wide) to transit the Panama Canal. As a reminder, the Panama Canal was expanded in 2016 through the completion of new Neopanamax locks, thereby allowing LNG vessels to pass through the canal.

In April 2018, the Panama Canal Authority announced it would accommodate vessels up to 51.25 meters wide opening the prospect for Qatargas’ Q-Flex vessels to transit. The transit of Al Safliya through the Panama Canal creates future opportunities for the 31 Qatari Q-Flex vessels, allowing them to discharge cargoes in the Pacific Basin and then proceed to the Atlantic basin to load their next cargo.

Chevron and Anadarko Petroleum merger

On the 9th pf May, 2019, Chevron which operates in Australia for LNG, has decided to has decided to back out of the Anadarko Petroleum takeover deal. Chevron will not make a counterproposal concerning the merger agreement with Anadarko and will allow the four-day match period to expire, so Chevron thinks that Anadarko will terminate the merger agreement.

Michael Wirth, Chevron’s chairman and CEO, stated that “Winning in any environment doesn’t mean winning at any cost. Cost and capital discipline always matter, and we will not dilute our returns or erode value for our shareholders for the sake of doing a deal”. If the merger agreement is cancelled, Anadarko will be required to pay Chevron a termination fee of $1 billion.

China raises tariffs on US LNG imports

On Monday this week, China announced that they will arise tariffs on US LNG imports from 10% to 25%. This decision will be effective on the first of June.

With this announcement, Big LNG companies like Cheniere Energy and Tellurian have no significant fear about this tariffs’ raising, as there will be no major impact on their ability to sell LNG around the globe outside China. However, this will benefit United States’ foreign competitors as Russia whose goal is to expand their offer to Europe and China.

Surely, this 25% tariff means that there will be no longer China consumers for US LNG. The biggest impact would be on projects for which contracts have not been signed yet. Indeed, companies seeking to finance LNG plants have to first obtain long-term commitments from customers. Consequently, it will be more difficult to negotiate long-term contracts.

Underlying the importance of the LNG market in the United Stated, President Donald Trump visited earlier this week the newly constructed LNG terminal in Louisiana, named Cameron.

This visit marked the start of the LNG production as an achievement and a great offer for several thousands of employees. Cameron LNG whose mother entity is Sempra Energy, is one of five LNG projects Sempra Energy is developing in North America; In addition, Cameron LNG shareholders are currently discussing a possible extension of the initial project, already authorized by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Henry Hub vs TTF vs JKM

Regarding the TTF market prices (the Dutch Title Transfer Facility) :

The Dutch Market has shown higher LNG imports over the last few months essentially from Russia, Norway and other places via liquefied natural gas tankers. Reacting from the decrease of Asian demand, the TTF market has implemented different projects. Moreover, a big majority of new LNG deals within Europeans markets is increasingly referencing to the Dutch market and also used in Asian trades. The weight of this market is getting higher due to the euro prominence gaining in energy trading. Finally, with uncertainties about Brexit the UK activity trading is turning on the Dutch Title Transfer Facility, as the market is surging.

For the Henry Hub American market prices

For the first time, at the same day, the Lower 48 States of USA has received gas deliveries in 6 LNG exports facilities including the 4 new ones in Louisiana named Cameroun and the two others in Georgia (the Kinder Morgan’s Elba) and in Texas Freeport LNG which they are preparing to begin production. The main observable consequence is the oversupply of LNG over the USA territory depending of those facilities. On the other hand, a dozen other second-wave projects that are actively being developed for service in the early- to mid-2020s will raise the supply.

Regarding the JKM Japan Korea Market prices

Asian spot prices for liquefied natural gas (LNG) are following European gas prices up, this week for the first time since last December. Additionally, as the trade war is currently open between China and the USA, tariffs on liquefied natural gas (LNG) imports from the United States would raise.

TTF forward curve

We can see a contango situation in the beginning and followed by a slight backwardation.


Bulletin N°3 Diesel & Gasoline

link to explain the price of gasoline in Switzerland

RBOB futures :

The RBOB futures market is actually in backwardation due to the seasonal pattern of gasoline. The price of gasoline and the demand for gasoline tend to rise during April / May resulting from a different kind of gasoline produced, so the fact that the market is in backwardation makes total sense.

FUTURES DIESEL  (ULSD) ultra low sulfur diesel

Regarding ULSD futures market, the market is in contengo, the market is well supplied and it is less impacted by the seasonal pattern.

The shutdown of Russia’s Druzhba pipeline

Due to the discovery of the contamination of Russian crude on April 2019, the Russian government has been forced to shut the Druzhba pipeline which pumps 1 million barrels per day of crude, which represents 1% of global supply going to Germany, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Ukraine and Belarus. Oil from Ust- Luga (a Russian port), has also been contaminated with organic chloride which is a chemical compound used for oil extraction that can damage refining equipment. The Russian supply problems will lead to an increase on oil price and decrease production from the world’s second largest exporter of crude.

Approximately 10 crude tanker with 1 million tonnes of oil, worth more than $500 million still looking for buyers as the oil is contaminated. Vitol, Glencore and Trafigura bought the biggest number of cargoes loaded from the Russian Baltic port of Ust-Luga in late April. According to Reuters, two or three cargoes were also taken by Total and BP trading units. The sellers involved are Rosneft, Russneft, Surgut and Kazakh firms, according to the loading schedules from Ust-Luga port. Buyer such as Eni, Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch, Shell, PKN and Repsol have refused to take the oil into their refining infrastructure.

The Russian oil supply issue and the unsold cargoes from Ust-Luga could create a supply shortage in Europe and probably increase gasoline and diesel price in the future . The Russian government has promised to fix the quality issue faced by its oil production but nothing has been done since this declaration. The biggest European Terminal in Amsterdam told customers they would not accept any crude coming from russia with organic chloride above 50 ppm.

The acquisition of Anadarko by Chevron or Occidental

On 12th of April 2019, one of the biggest and most productive oil field in the United States called Anadarko  has received a merger offer from Chevron. A few weeks later, Occidental, a petroleum company, four times smaller than Chevron has offered a takeover bid superior to Chevron’s offer. Occidental offered to pay $76 per share in cash and stock which represent  about 17 percent more than what Chevron agreed to pay to Anadarko ($65 per shares). Occidental’s superior offer has been seen from many wall street analysts as not realistic as Chevon had better revenues. This new offer has raised the stakes in what would be the biggest takeover in the global oil industry in three years.  

However, this bidding war has taken another turn when Warren Buffett, an American business magnate considered as one of the most successful investor in the world has announced that he will invest $10 billion to Occidental acquisition of Anadarko. In the deal, Buffet would receive 100’000 shares and 8% annual dividend. On Monday 6 of May 2019, Anadarko Petroleum board said that it intended to reject its first takeover bid, Chevron, as Occidental Petroleum came with a better offer. The combination of Occidental and Anadarko would generate more than 1.4 million barrels of oil per day

U.S. to Clamp Down on Iranian Oil Sales, Risking Rise in Gasoline Prices

Over the last few months, the Trump administration has an aggressive plan to ultimately end the exportation of Iranian oil from other nations, especially China and India. This move is entirely driven by politics since the aim of the Trump administration is to starve the country in order to drastically alter the government and its position in the Middle-East. The core tactics and the american nations was to implement economic sanctions.

While other countries have completely stop their purchases from Iran such Taiwan, Italy and Greece, other countries have long continued their businesses with the country just as usual, such as the aforementioned China and India.

One of the byproduct of this course of action has been the increase in the price of gasoline specifically. When referring to the price of gasoline in America, global head of energy analysis at the Oil Price Information Service, Tom Kloza has stated that “Last summer didn’t go above $3 a gallon as a national average, but this summer, if we don’t have Iranian oil we probably do go over $3”. This clearly displays the high dependance the US has with Iran. The country has planned some sort of counter solution with their own blend of gasoline which is expensive in response to the already expensive regular gasoline already in the market.

Bulletin # 3- Copper

Glencore cuts 2019 copper production market as has been lowered following severe flooding in Australia and also due to security failure that led to a 7 percent drop in production for the 1st quarter.

Furthermore, the mining sector has been worried and under pressure due to his exposure to environmental and political risk. The presence in countries viewed as high risk like Democratic Republic of Congo, might damage the company reputation.

Indeed, Glencore’s Katanga Mining unit which produce copper and cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo had to stop is production after detecting radiation and Glencore had to install a plant in order to remove the contamination. The Katanga Mining Unit just restarted.

Copper market still undersupply:

Rio Tinto has discovered a potential mine of copper-gold-silver in Winu in Australia. This is a potential boost for the company growth. If it is not a Tier 1 asset, Rio Tinto will move to another exploration project.

Even though the new projects, Rio Tinto believe that the cooper market will go into a deficit as electric vehicle boom and bigger power grids will boost demand while supplies will remain constrained.

However, analysts at CRU (commodity research unit), think that thanks to major mining projects like Anglo’s Quellaveco, Teck’s Quebrada Balance and many others, the copper market will be in a small surplus market and it will go short in 2023.

Trade news:

Despite price drop , copper still created desire. Indeed, the electric car and renewable energies have revived interest in this metal. An electric vehicle contains four times more copper than a conventional vehicle. Wind and solar power generation also requires a lot of copper. Several transactions have been announced in recent weeks by giants in the sector. BHP, the world’s leading mining group has acquired an interest in an exploration company, SolGold which has one of the most promising projects in the sector today. China’s number three copper miner, Zijin Mining, has taken over Serbia’s largest mine. Anglo American had previously chosen to launch a $5 billion mining project in Peru.

Futures Forward Curves



By comparing 2 forward curves above, we can notice some changes in the copper market. In the previous curve, the market was in the contango directly from April, meaning that the there was an oversupply situation. In the current curve, we are in backwardation. The market turns from a bearish to bullish market to an undersupply situation.


On the 26th of April the freight price is at 1’334 USD, Going up 4.22%, it has stabilized in the region of 1’300 and 1’400 USD since our last bulletin.

As we can see on these graphs, there has been little movement. many routes haven’t changed much. The highest movers has been Mediterranean to China/East Asia which went up 4%, after a sharp decrease lasting a few months.

Looking at the Pacific graph, we can see that going from USA to Asia is becoming more expensive whereas the other way back is declining in price.

As we can see again on this graph, there hasn’t been much change in nearly a month but we can see that most prices have increased when looking at annual changes except Shanghai which has decreases.

Transporting LNG is very profitable

A global quest for cleaner energy has fired up demand for liquefied natural gas (LNG). Over a dozen different companies, including energy majors BP and ExxonMobil, trading house Trafigura and gas utility Centrica are already looking to charter boats for the winter, according to four shipping industry sources, months earlier than usual. Energy firms are trying to avoid getting stuck without ships on charter for the winter, when cold weather typically drives up trade in LNG and, consequently, transport costs.

The market for LNG freight trade is relatively new and many companies are reluctant to talk about trading strategies, which are still being developed. Some specialists see LNG shipping as a commodity of its own, many companies are starting to trade LNG Freight.

What sinking ship finance means to future ocean freight markets

The securities sales by U.S.-listed ship owners and global marine syndicated loan activity being the two significant indicators of vessel finance, are both currently flashing warning light. This will consequently impact the ocean freight markets both in the short and long-run.

Furthermore, in 2018, U.S. –listed ship owners made only $650 million from sales of common stocks whereas it was $4.6 billion in profits generated from common-equity offerings 2014. The reason of this was that shipping stocks have been traded below the “net asset value”.

Another reason of sinking ship finance is that shipping bank-debt availability has been squeezed by the implementation of regulations under the Basel III protocol and impending implementation of Basel IV. There are indeed at least three reasons that ship finance is very important to ocean freight markets.

  1. Transparency: the more listed owners there are, the more information is delivered to the cargo market on dominant rates. Despite, the availability of various freights rate indices (e.g. Baltic Dry Index), the actual rate obtained by ship owners are often different from the benchmark rates.

Reliability: in terms of cargo-transport reliability, ship financing is significant e.g. inability of cash increase will lower ship maintenance spending and this will therefore drive to ship breakdowns.

  1. Rates: the major consequence of ship financing availability on ocean freight pricing is the more access of vessel finance, the newer vessels will be built, the more available ships on the market (more capacity), and this will therefore lower future rates for cargo shippers. The effect on freight rates is mainly seen in the wet and dry bulk markets unlike container shipping as the latter large number of orders is “government-sponsored”.

Finally, when the capital become more expensive and difficult to find, the returns indeed have to cover expenses. As the capital costs are rising in the shipping market, the capacity would ultimately have to decline in relation to cargo demand, and freight rates would have to increase accordingly.

New shipping rules leave oil traders strangely paralyzed

IMO 2020 regulations promoting Low-Sulphur fuels throw up plenty of unknowns Regarding the effect of IMO 2020 on fuel price –

On one side, there are analysts and traders who believe the regulation will lead to a spike in diesel prices that potentially feeds through to crude oil markets, making energy prices higher across the board. Some even forecasting a recession as a result.

On the other hand, others think these fears are exaggerated because they assume that refineries have been aware of the coming shift for years and the best run groups will have put plans in place to increase output of diesel-style fuels (which will prevent a short in supply therefore a lower increase in price than expected in case of undersupply).

In addition to that, there is also the explanation about the number of ships that may fit Sulphur-removing scrubbers to their engines as a solution, allowing them to keep using cheaper, dirtier fuels without flouting the rules. However, this is expected to be only around 4 percent of the global shipping fleet.

The International Energy Agency forecast earlier this month that demand for High-Sulphur fuel oil, commonly used in shipping, could fall 60 per cent in one year, while demand for very low Sulphur shipping fuel — a diesel-like product — could double to 2m b/d. But nine months out from crunch time, despite the debate, the oil market still feels strangely paralyzed by indecision.

This uncertainty could potentially explain the stabilization of price of freight that we mention in this bulletin, as traders are more hesitant to enter new deals. Deals may be made on a smaller scale as an attempt to reduce risk, which makes less of an impact and leave the price to stabilize.


Bulletin 3 – “Coffee’s price still plumbing”

Trade news

According to an article from Reuters, a coffee centre near Dubai’s Jebel Ali port has been opened which offers the opportunity to store and to process coffee beans in the Middle East. 

Being modern and able to handle up 20’000 tonnes of coffee beans annually in bulk or in speciality (equivalent to $100 million according to Sanjeev Dutta, executive director for commodities at DMCC), this coffee centre is equipped of temperature-controlled facility for coffee beans, and offers infrastructure and services for the processing and the delivery.  

The advantage of this coffee centre is that it is the only one located in the Middle East. Thanks to this advantage, coffee traders could use this centre as a distribution hub for the region and get a bigger margin in the redistribution of their coffee beans. 

The purpose of The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) is to attract major coffee trading house, as well as small and medium players in the coffee market, to bring and deal their business in this new coffee centre. 

Indeed, in our opinion, this would increase the revenue of the center by receiving the payment of the storage costs paid by traders. Moreover, the concerned port in Dubai will have a competitive advantage compared to the other ports of the region because, traders could use this new center as a storage point and could distribute easily coffee beans in different volumes in the region.  

Until now, the coffee beans in bulk that have already gone through this coffee centre were from South America and East Africa. However, the location of this centre is interesting and well-positioned for coffee traders who deal with Asian producers such as coffee producers from India or Indonesia. 

Coffee at all time low in 13 years

The coffee is traded at an all-time low of 93 cents a pound for the Arabica (spot prices US April 2019). The cost of production should be around $1,20 to $1,50 per pound for the many small producers to breakeven. In Guatemala, farmers are abandoning the farms while Colombians are turning into Cocoa production. The problem is that the market is largely driven by the Brazilian coffee (about ¼ of the world’s coffee trade). The oversupply from the country (62m in 2018) made the price drop low. Moreover, the Brazilian Real has depreciated, pushing them to export even more: the coffee is traded in dollars, which gives the incentives to Brazilian farmers to export and get more money from it. 

What would be a coffee trader’s position right now while the price of coffee is historically falling? As we know, traders are hedging their physicals with futures. As we know too, traders are long physical and short futures. Let us remember that traders are not trying to get money from the futures, but trying cancel out the risk. 

Futures comparison since beginning of the semester:

Cocoa’s spot and future price

Cocoa’s spot price / price in $ per MT

Cocoa’s future price

For the month of April 2019, the spot price of cocoa was equal to USD 2’368per MT, and is higher than the future price which is equal to USD 2’354per MT. 

By referring to the cocoa’s future curve which shows the 10 metric tons’ future contract, the current cocoa market is in backwardation since the future curve is downward. Having the cocoa’s future price lower than the spot price, it means that currently the worldwide demand for cocoa is high, and the cocoa market is a bullish market. The reason of this high demand might be the end of the crop’s season of cocoa.  

Small case study

First, we are a small company trading cocoa. Our aim is to develop the chocolate business in Asia, mainly in China. We are seeking either to buy or to grow more cocoa plantation and we are searching which country would be the best for us to buy or invest. 

Actual China importation

At the beginning, we analysed the actual importation of cocoa from China in 2018, in order to understand what is the actual demand. 

We saw the total import in 2018 equal to 4’125 thousand tons. Therefore, the China importation represents 0.8 percent, not even 1 percent of the total importation of cocoa. This data confirms us that there is a market to develop in this region. 

From where to import?

In order to get a better understanding of the exporting countries and the actual trends, we did an analysis of the 4 biggest exporting countries comparing their productions between 2000 and 2018. 

In 1999/2000

In 2018

What appeared at the first glance is the global production which increased from 2000 to 2018 from 3’003 thousand tons to 4’046 thousand tons. 

We are facing an increase of more than 25 percent in 18 years. We can see that Côte d’Ivoire kept the first place and even increased its production. 

Ghana doubled its production which show that they heavily invested in cocoa production and also that is a profitable business. 

In contrary, Indonesia which is the closest country between the one above to China decrease from 410 thousand tons in 2000 to only 27 thousand tons in 2018. It appears that around 2012, following bad crops with small beans and many dead trees, Indonesia stopped their cocoa production for palm oil which request much less work as stated in the article from Reuters in 2012 “Indonesia’s “Frankentrees” turn cocoa dream into nightmare”. 

Then by looking at the 10 biggest exporters in 2018, all of them are either from east Africa or Latin America except Malaysia which is the closest country from China with a constant increase in production since is 2014 reaching in 2018 a total of 155 thousand tons representing a little bit less than 4 percent of the global production. 

Cocoa production in Malaysia

Malaysia seems not new in this business and had 9% market share in 1990 but surprisingly like Indonesia in 2012, their production crashed in less than 3 years as shown below. 

The global exports of cocoa beans decreased from 9% in 1990 to 2% in 2000 This crash in production for 2 main raisons. The first one isby loss of production due to pests and diseases, and the second one was to benefit from the value added resulting from manufacturing its downstream products 

Why there is a new growing trend in cocoa production?

Malaysia doesn’t only benefit from low production cost but also from a structure to process the beans. Indeed, based in the Peninsula can be found grindings and manufacturing plant for cocoa.

There is also another attributable of Malaysian cocoa which is the special characteristic of the high melting point of the Malaysian cocoa butter. This is advantageous for chocolate products in warm countries.

In conclusion, due to the following attributes stated above and to the proximity of Malaysia to China, I would definitely advice to invest in their cocoa plantation to supply the future demand from China. 


REUTERS, 2019. “Dubai’s DMCC in talks with major coffee traders for new coffee centre”. Reuters(online) February 18th, 2019. Consulted on April 30th, 2019. Available at: 

TRADING ECONOMICS, 2019. “Cocoa’s closing price”. April 30th, 2019. Available at:

THE ICE, 2019. “Cocoa’s future price”. Future contract July 2019. April 30th, 2019 Available at:

Cocoa, a guide to trade practices (developed partly by the WTO)Consulted on April 30th, 2019. Available at:

ITC – International Trade Center. Consulted on April 30th, 2019. Available at:

Reuters, Indonesia’s “Frankentrees” turn cocoa dream into nightmare

Supply and Demand Model for the Malaysian Cocoa Market Consulted on April 30th, 2019. Available at:…/11.Supply_and_Demand_Mo…

Traders wake up to cost of coffee crisis, Financial times, consulted on April 2019, available at:

Soybean bulletin no3

Grains(Insights from the SRIC Trading Forum 2019)

Themes as drivers over the next 9 months

Trade war resolution:does a “deal” bring new demand to the US and the World or does it simply readjust global flows?

Current flooding in the US corn and soybean belt:do we have a major “prevent plant” for corn and does this mean a significant shift to soybean?

African Swine Flu:is the real impact being underestimated, with some reports suggesting up to a 20-30% reduction in the output of some South East Asian countries and China? Up to 200 million pigs could be culled or die from being infected as African swine fever spreads through China, Rabobank said. Knowing that China is home to the world’s largest pig herd which counted around 360 million heads in late 2018, the impact on the output would be huge and could not be supported by Europe and USA (2nd and 3rd largest producing country) production as the sole reduction occurring in China’s output is equivalent to Europe’s yearly pork output. 

Market drivers over the next 9 – 22 months

Weather: Directly affecting short term yields, are we getting closer to a major, multi country weather event again? And how do we deal with what seems to be a reality that technology is flattening or compensating the impact of weather?

Technology: How exponential is the technology curve in farming and in the supply chain? Is an integrated supply chain a medium or a long term reality?

Traders: How much does an asset oriented supply chain impact trade flows? How much consolidation is coming and who will be the consolidators?

  • In Russia and Ukraine, both the biggest exporters and producers of grains are national companies without any international network, so in a world leading to consolidation, how is this possible and what can be done by traders?

Consumption: How does ASF impact on the medium term and does it incentivize a switch to poultry ? Are we anywhere close to “peak consumption”?

  • Poultry need half of the feed stuff to produce the proteins that a pig requires. But it still it’s more the consumer’s habits that drive the demand and the market for what people want to eat.

Trade news

An important turning point for Brazilian soy is starting to emerge as major grain traders are trying to negotiate the tariffs of the old Panama Canal for Brazilians grains ships delivering in China. According to traders, it is today cheaper by USD 206’000 for a Brazilian ship to go through the Cape of Good Hope, rather than using the congested new Panama Canal. Should the private port operators and the traders find common ground, it would be a win-win situation as the Panama canal would receive more Brazilian ships and the traders would save up to 5 days voyage. 

Another news is regarding Louis Dreyfus, major grain trader, and its investments in an Asian poultry and food industry following an IPO – sources claim ten different investors limited at 5% maximum share. It is understood that this horizontal integration is done according to the diversification strategy of LD as the grains sector is facing an important diminution in both purchase and sales margins

Finishing with Brazil, we see another logistic disaster as a bridge, connecting large farming areas of Pará state to northern ports collapsed. Traders seemed not as distressed as barges still manage to sail up and down the river and alternative routes are available for any truck transportation. The region is approximately delivering 5% (~6 million tons a year) of the Brazilian soy annual production.

GMO Soybeans

In the US, 87% of the vast majority of soybeans are GMOs, according to GMO Compass whereas in Brazil, according to ISAAA, the area planted with GM crops totalled 50.2 million hectares in 2017, approximately ⅔ of the US cultivated lands. Europe decided to launch the strategic European Independence Protein Plan to develop all protein crops which are under cultivated in Europe. EU has a huge dependency on South America’s soy, as it produce only ⅔ of the internal demand.

People are moreover looking for non-GMOs product and that’s what the EU tends to do with reducing the import of GMOs products. US and Brazil represents the biggest exporters of soybeans and the content of GMOs in their crops could likely close the doors of the EU market in the near future.

Price movement

According to China Customs data, domestic demand for soybeans remained low compared to previous years and the March import of soybeans was at 4.91 million mt, 13% lower than the same period in 2018. The soybeans global outlook did not feel confident about the US-China trade talks.

Furthermore, government-related trading companies in China have delayed their purchases of US soybeans. “We have seen that China has bought millions of tons of American soybeans in recent months, but recently it has reduced its purchase because we have not seen many soybean movements out of the United States.” declared a trader. 

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the United States exported $13,366 million worth of soybeans from October 2017 to February 2018, and one year later, exports decreased by 37% to $8,411 million of soy.

The slowdown in soybean consumption, mainly in China, has created a lot of uncertainty as market players struggle to digest the excess supply of soybeans from the United States, Brazil and Argentina.

The spread of African swine fever in Chinese pigs has reduced the demand for soybean meal, a high protein animal feed, from the world’s largest soybean importer.

Last year, the US government set up a $12 billion agricultural aid package to mitigate the effects of declining farmer incomes. However, the Trump administration does not seem to help the farmers anymore. The U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Lies on Tuesday: “they can consider the option if the trade negotiations and weak commodity prices linger”. We can assume that it will depend on the polls of the upcoming elections, taking into account that those farmers are a major source of votes for US President Donald Trump.

Recommendation for the future

The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, said Monday that she hoped the US and China would reach an agreement to end their trade dispute, which baffled the financial markets and cast a shadow over the Mondial economy.

According to a poll by Reuters, Brazil’s soybean crop in 2018/19 is expected to be the second largest ever.

We are less optimistic than we once were and therefore would advise to take short position.


LNG – April 19 Bulletin

Asian Prices vs European Benchmark

Prices on the Asian market have decreased below the European benchmark for the first time since the US started exporting LNG in 2016.  

We can easily observe a drastic fell for the LNG prices since the autumn 2018, and especially on the next friday, according the Financial Times, prices collapse due to the current higher seasonal temperatures as well as the recent restarting of Japan nuclear industries and the storage in North Asia still full.

Also, important buyers mainly located in Japan, Taiwan and India, have decreased their demand of cargo deliveries leading the Asian JKM price to $4.429 per million British thermal units, the lowest since April/May 2016 with $5,86 per million Btu. In that sense, China, an other large LNG buyer, is currently more interested for purchasing LNG forward contracts rather than on the spot market for immediate delivery. Prices have also been affected by rising LNG supply, which grew by 12 per cent in February from a year ago, according to consultants Energy Aspects.

As Asian LNG prices have been at their weakest in three years so far this winter, U.S. cargoes have found home in Europe, which has been the top buyer of U.S. LNG this winter season. Indeed, the market has been inundated with supplies coming onstream from the United States, Russia and Australia.

However, a cyclone heading for north western Australia may disrupt LNG loading there,clearing the loading port at Dampier and Ashburton, according to Pilbara Port Authority.

To compare, see below the European LNG benchmark price.


Europe LNG Market is Becoming an increasingly important market.

For some LNG analysts and industry officials, Europe is becoming an important LNG demand market after 2021 especially due to the decline of the natural gas production in northwest Europe, meanwhile that the global LNG supply will growth.

Indeed, the Netherlands is reducing their production at the huge Groningen field, aiming to terminate production by 2030. The UK and Norway may also see drops in natural gas exports.

Forward Curve only for European Countries ( Dutch market )

Since December 2018, the futures price falls on the TTF curve ( Title Transfer Facility, is a virtual trading point for natural gas in the Netherlands).

Excepting for a warmer spring than normal, Europeans tend to store gas inventory and so conducting a global decrease of futures prices.

Therefore, we remark a low sharp movement in the front months of the TTF curve.

We can mention that the gas forward curve represents a price indicator for energy prices evolution and futures expectations.

Indeed, the relationship between gas and coal plants in European power markets will be the key price barometer on the European demand side.

Investment of different stakeholders

Chinese state shipbuilding company and Norway-based DNV GL classification society have unveiled a project to develop the world’s largest liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrier with a capacity of 270,000 cubic meters. which will be run on LNG thanks to the royal Dutch  shell and tokyo Gas agreement.

Chevron second biggest oil company are investing in unconventional resources in the permian basin, the goal is to use produce 600’000 barrels a day in the end of 2020, and reach 900’000 barrels by the end of 2023 some of that will go to the LNG plant and around the world to serve the growing demande

Source for forward curve :

Other sources :

US Wheat and Corn market is currently into trouble

Wheat Prices

Chicago wheat futures decrease for a fifth consecutive day on Wednesday 10 April, the worst losing streak since February, after a U.S. government report raised its estimate for world wheat inventories.
The most-active wheat contract on the CME was down 0.3 percent at $4.58 a bushel. The five days of losses for the wheat contract are the worst streak of declines since prices dropped for six days in a row from Feb. 25 to March 4.
The wheat market is under pressure after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a monthly report on Tuesday raised its forecast of global 2018/19 wheat ending stocks to 275.61 million tonnes, the highest in a range of trade expectations. The USDA also boosted its estimate of domestic wheat supplies.

Corn Prices

South American bids were down, reflecting abundant exportable supplies. Argentine bids fell $3/ton to $159, while Brazilian bids, reflecting improved prospects for second-crop corn, were down $25/ton to $165. Black Sea bids rose $2/ton to $174 on stronger demand from the European Union. U.S. bids fell only $3/ton to $170 as larger- than-expected planting intentions were mostly offset by concerns over planting delays and weather-related river logistics complications.

Prospective Plantings in the US:
Corn planted area for all purposes in 2019 is estimated at 92.8 million acres, up 4 percent or 3.66 million acres from last year.
All wheat planted area for 2019 is estimated at 45.8 million acres, down 4 percent from 2018. This represents the lowest all wheat planted area on record since records began in 1919. Winter wheat (HRW, SRW, and White Winter) is down 3 percent from last year.
Area planted to other spring wheat for 2019 is estimated at 12.8 million acres, down 3 percent from 2018. Of this total, about 12.4 million acres are Hard Red Spring wheat. Durum planted area for 2019 is estimated at 1.42 million acres, down 31 percent from the previous year.

Problem in the US due to the USDA report and Weather
USDA (U.S department of agriculture) report of the month of April has highly impacted the future price of corn and wheat. Indeed, an increase is forecasted in U.S corn ending stocks. Indeed, the USDA reported that the amount left over of corn for the end of the 2018/19 marketing year was 1.835 billion which is historically high. More supply means that the price of corn will go down.

Moreover, Corn is also threatened by terrible weather condition into the southern fringes of the crop belt. Even more alarming, the US farmer have started to plant the 2019 corn and wheat crops. The current snowstorm will have some impact as it might kill the crop that are really fragile currently. 15 to 30 cm of snow are forecasted in the area of South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. This is also combined by the recent flooding disaster that happened recently in the US.

Figure 1: Corn Belt

Figure 2: Wheat Belt

Trading houses reaction to the hard times of soft commodities
From the trader point of view, it appears that soft commodities are not as profitable as it used to be. It is mostly due to the US – China Trade war and the weakened the amount of shipment between the 2 countries. The profit of ADM has been reduced from the food industry. For ADM the food segment an operating profit of $339 million in 2018, compared to $546 million for 2017, (includes grain handling). The solution found by ADM is to force early retirement among many employees of the enterprises such as traders and operators to improve the productivity.

Future prices

Figure 3: $/bushel

Figure 4: $/bushel


Copper Bulletin N°2

Better perspectives in copper supply

World’s major miners believe that copper market will be considerably better supplied in the mid-term than a year ago.

This positive view is due to a strong demand trend and the fact that copper companies think that new mines are needed. Those able to develop these new projects will increase volumes, profit and revenues. Therefore, the high copper prices in 2017-2018 have also encouraged few companies to invest in new copper projects. This new production will lead to an expected 900’000 tons a year more copper supply around 2020 than today.

It is forecasted that the copper deficit will shrunk from 600’000 tons to 200’000 tons. A slowdown in the demand growth is expected in the coming years from 2,5% to 1,9% of growth per year.

We also have to keep in mind that the global outlook is strongly influenced by China even though is rate of growth is declining. Furthermore, its economy is changing to an industry growing economy which demand a lot of copper supply to a consumption-based economy which has a lower demand.

Copper producers must nevertheless keep an eye on the market and introduce flexibility into their new project to ensure maximum profitability. Indeed, the slowdown in demand from the developed countries and the speed at which China demand slows remain uncertain and could affect producers’ new projects.

MMG Ltd plans after tax hike in Congo

After Glencore and ERG another foreign miner is reviewing its future production plans after the government increased taxes and removed investors safeguards.

MMG Ltd which is a Chinese state-owned enterprise is considering to invest in more expensive methods of mining the metal when existing oxide resources are exhausted.

Congo ranks alongside the United States as the world’s fourth biggest cooper producer and the largest source of cobalt. A supply change in Congo could have the potential to impact the cooper and cobalt prices, which have declined in the past due to that trade war between the U.S and China.

Forward curves



By comparing 2 forward curves below, we can notice some changes in the copper market. In the previous curve, the market was in the backwardation from march to April, meaning that the there was an undersupply situation. In the current curve, we are in contango. The market turns from a bullish to bearish market to an oversupply situation.

Spot Price

We can see a drop in the copper price during the month of February probably due to the Chinese New Year. Prices start to rise again on March as Chinese demand restart as well as the economic growth. The copper market is still undersupply which add even more pressure on prices.

Copper futures forward curve. MarketQview(online). 28thMarch 2019. (Consulted on 31th March 2019).
Available at the URL:
Global copper market under supplied, demand on the rise — report (online). (Consulted on the 2nd April 2019)
URL: Futures Forward Curve (online). (Consulted on the 2nd April 2019)
URL: MMG Joins Glencore, ERG Reviewing Congo Plans After Tax Hike (Consulted on the 2nd April 2019)