NAPERVILLE — Money managers began 2023 with their most bullish ever stance in Chicago-traded soybean meal, and their heavier corn and soy selling in the year’s first session was outdone by ample buying in the final days of 2022.
In the four-day week ended Jan. 3, money managers boosted their net long position in CBOT soybean meal futures and options to a record 141,877 contracts, up nearly 12,000 on the week, according to data published Friday by the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
That beats the old managed money record net long of 133,549 meal contracts on May 1, 2018, and just like the five prior weeks, last week’s move was mostly the result of new gross longs. Most-active soymeal was up 4% in the week ended Jan. 3.
May 2018 still holds the crown when it comes to the speculative net long, including managed money and other reportable traders, by just over 12,000 meal futures and options contracts.
Meal futures rose nearly 3% over the last three sessions, finishing Friday at $477.60 per short ton, the highest since late March, as hot and dry weather grips leading meal exporter Argentina.
CORN, SOY, WHEAT
CBOT corn, soybean and wheat futures declined notably on Jan. 3, the first trading day of 2023. But money managers remained net buyers of all three in that week due to a strong finish to 2022.
Through Jan. 3, money managers increased their net long in CBOT corn futures and options to 196,457 contracts, a two-month high, from 159,315 a week earlier. The two weeks ended Jan. 3 marked funds’ heaviest two-week corn buying in 14 months, and new longs were in control.
Money managers bought CBOT soybeans for a fourth straight week through Jan. 3, raising their net long to a seven-month high of 142,994 futures and options contracts, up from 128,616 a week earlier. They added nearly 63,000 gross soybean longs over the latest six weeks while gross shorts remained largely unchanged.
Elsewhere in the soy complex, money managers reduced their net long position in CBOT soybean oil through Jan. 3 to 63,762 futures and options contracts from 65,587 a week earlier. The lighter selling was despite a near 5% drop in most-active futures. Futures were unchanged between Wednesday and Friday.
Funds became increasingly bearish CBOT wheat throughout the second half of 2022, but they have not been net sellers since the first week of December. Through Jan. 3, they cut about 3,500 contracts from their stance, resulting in a net short of 52,715 CBOT wheat futures and options contracts.
CBOT wheat added more than 6% in the four weeks through Jan. 3, but they shed 4% in the last three sessions, ending Friday at $7.43-1/2 per bushel. Investors may have reduced CBOT corn length late last week with futures down 2.5% between Wednesday and Friday.
Most-active CBOT soybean futures were unchanged over the last three sessions given the poor conditions in Argentina and possibly unfavorable weather in Brazil’s southernmost state offsetting U.S. demand concerns.
This week, traders are awaiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s reports due Thursday at noon EST (1700 GMT). They expect U.S. corn, soy and wheat ending stock estimates to rise along with Brazilian corn and soy crops, though a sizable decline is predicted for Argentina’s harvests.
Analysts also expect U.S. winter wheat seedings for the 2023 harvest at seven-year highs. The 2022 U.S. corn and soy crops are seen slightly larger than previous estimates. Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.
(Editing by Lisa Shumaker)