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Lowering crop price forecasts on sharply higher corn stocks
The USDA’s Grain Stocks report featured corn and wheat stocks well above our and consensus expectations. We see three consequences to today’s release: (1) lower agriculture prices as less demand destruction will be required; (2) outperformance of soybean over corn prices; and, (3) a potentially faster decline to food inflation in China.
Higher corn supplies limit the need for corn demand destruction …
The USDA’s Grain Stocks report has recently been the source of large surprises and today’s (September 30) release extended that trend with corn and wheat stocks well above our and consensus expectations. We expect these higher 2011/12 corn beginning stocks to more than offset our forecast for lower new-crop corn production and allow for both stronger demand and higher ending stocks than we had previously expected. As a result, the required corn demand destruction we expected will be smaller and we lower our corn price forecast from $7.35/bu to $6.15/bu on a 3- and 6-mo horizon and from $7.00/bu to $5.50/bu on a 12-month horizon. We expect downside from current prices to be limited barring a European sovereign default or a US recession, as prices need to remain sufficiently elevated to prevent any meaningful consumption growth in the face of still low inventories.
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… and accelerate the outperformance of soybean over corn prices
We also lower our soybean price forecast from $13.75/bu, $14.00/bu, $14.00/bu to $12.60/bu, $13.00/bu, $13.00/bu but still expect that soybean prices will outperform corn prices. In particular, the tightening of the soybean balance relative to the corn balance will likely intensify the competition for US acreage next spring, which had been significantly skewed in favor of corn. We see upside risk to our soybean forecast on a potential return of La Niña this winter. Finally, we lower our wheat price forecast from $7.50/bu, $7.90/bu and $7.50/bu to $6.40/bu, $6.50/bu and $6.00/bu on the back of both lower expected corn prices and higher wheat stocks. With higher corn supplies and the window for wheat-to-corn feed substitution in the US closing, today’s release suggests that the recent record-high wheat-to-corn price correlation will likely decline. Interestingly, the recent collapse in soybean prices will potentially have a beneficial impact on Chinese inflation as local food inflation and CBOT soybean prices have exhibited a strong correlation over the past few years. Investors should consider this report as only a single factor in making their investment decision. For Reg AC see the end of the text. For other important disclosures, see the Disclosure Appendix, or go to www.gs.com/research/hedge.html.
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30/bu $1.804/mt $7.999/mt ($191/mt) May 23. wheat and soybean prices over the next 12 months suggests that producers should take advantage of any rally in crop prices to implement hedge programs for the 2012/13 crop year. Inclusive of all previous rolling profits/losses.00/bu call position and we recommend keeping this position open in case of a supply disappointment in South America should the La Nina weather condition intensify.189/mt $1. 2011 .0/bu call on 3-Aug-11 with a realized gain of $1.Natural Gas Weekly 70. However. Source: Goldman Sachs Global ECS Research.261/mt ($1.16/bbl $99.543/mt) May 23. we had locked in potential gains in early August by rolling the long Nov-11 CBOT future position initiated in November 2010 into a long Nov-11 soybean $14.617. 2010 . 2011 .Precious Metals $1.2 p/th May 23.66/bbl) First recommended Initial value Current Value Current profit/(loss) 1 ¹As of close on September 29. We continue to see risks to cotton and soybean prices as skewed to the upside on any weather disappointment and therefore recommend consumers layer in asymmetric upside hedges for 2012. 2010 .Commodity Watch $2. Trading recommendations Long soybeans: Buy November 2011 CBOT soybean call options Our price forecast does not suggest upside potential to our outstanding long soybean trade recommendation.1/toz April 26. 2011 .8 p/th 72.Commodity Watch $8. Goldman Sachs Global Economics.50/bbl ($5.2/toz $1.September 30. Producers: Our expectation of modestly lower corn.68/bu Long Gold Buy December 2011 COMEX Gold October 11.0 p/th 1.60/bu $13.Energy Watch $105. 2011 .70/bu Rolled into a long Nov-11 CBOT soybean $14. 2011. 2011 Global Hedging and trading recommendations Hedging recommendations Consumers: Our current forecasts do not suggest significant upside to current crop prices.364. Current trading recommendations Current trades Long Brent Crude Oil Buy December 2012 ICE Brent Crude Oil Long Copper Buy June 2012 LME Copper Long Zinc Buy December 2012 LME Zinc Long UK Natural Gas Buy Q4 2012 ICE UK NBP Natural Gas Long Soybeans Buy November 2011 CBOT Soybean November 18.3/toz $253. Commodities and Strategy Research 2 .Agriculture Update $11.
7 38.6 11.9 35.8 4.24 87.26 4.0 600 1300 550 100 175 2700 24.0 1645 27.4 14.74 94.1 18.45 2.5 93.6 26.3 1228 19.00 $/mt $/mt $/mt $/mt 2247 7230 18670 1925 -2780 -1845 -322 -131 24.25 21.90 n/a n/a n/a -2.71 n/a n/a 31.17 2.7 467 957 355 81 140 2987 15.09 41.9 120.6 2199 7274 20163 2307 2122 7042 22431 2052 2110 7278 21271 2043 2365 8614 23619 2333 2531 9629 26926 2414 2618 9163 24191 2271 2800 9700 24000 2450 2900 10000 23000 2500 2950 11000 23000 2700 $/troy oz $/troy oz 1617 30.96 2.14 103.0 79.8 -7.4 4.18 2.48 76.48 4.04 1.6 640 1260 615 100 235 2700 28.2 -171 -10.4 90.05 4.9 3. 6-.0 2. Price forecasts refer to prompt contract price forecasts in 3-.99 120.5 9.7 93.6 31.00 134.7 34.66 1.43 0.1 32.10 3.1 34.5 30.62 2.68 2.0 1110 16.4 90.2 86.95 3.25 76.38 58.6 33. Based on LME three month prices.52 116.6 -2.4 32.37 2.22 2.50 120.00 131.4 6. Gas UK NBP Nat.00 2.6 -3.13 43.9 -3 -54 29.36 3.37 -0. 1-mo realized volatility).11 4.0 41.7 41.3 62.6 0. volatilities and forecasts Prices and monthly changes1 units Energy WTI Crude Oil Brent Crude Oil RBOB Gasoline NYMEX Heating Oil NYMEX Nat. Commodities and Strategy Research 3 .98 51.6 2.95 2.89 3.35 3.7 707 1245 562 128 205 2856 29.5 69.04 2.60 102.5 111.00 3.2 23.82 4.00 2.00 124.1 49.0 Monthly change is difference of close on last business day and close a month ago.4 -3.00 2.0 5.8 20.23 42.19 -7.05 4.0 95.4 1388 31.21 76.4 53.30 105.0 95.4 -103 -208 -124 30.77 3.1 45.4 41.4 32. and 12-months time.93 -0.20 56.5 110.2 786 1379 670 179 257 3307 30.9 5.41 2.7 38.3 78.1 n/a n/a -2.80 10.1 496 955 370 76 134 3070 24.0 1370 26.0 3.44 38.11 2.9 7.0 -0.5 1730 28.37 2.0 130.5 71. Source: Goldman Sachs Global ECS Research estimates.12 4.1 Cent/bu Cent/bu Cent/bu Cent/bu Cent/bu $/mt Cent/lb Cent/lb Cent/lb 654 1230 633 102 231 2694 26.8 31.19 -5.0 100.September 30. Gas Industrial Metals4 LME Aluminum LME Copper LME Nickel LME Zinc Precious Metals London Gold London Silver Agriculture CBOT Wheat CBOT Soybean CBOT Corn NYBOT Cotton NYBOT Coffee NYBOT Cocoa NYBOT Sugar CME Live Cattle CME Lean Hog 1 2 3 4 Volatilities (%) and monthly changes2 1Q 10 2Q 10 Historical Prices 3Q 10 4Q 10 1Q 11 2Q 11 Price Forecasts3 3m 6m 12m 29 Sep Change Implied2 Change Realized2Change $/bbl $/bbl $/gal $/gal $/mmBtu p/th 82.1 33.7 17.01 5.0 120.5 n/a n/a n/a 35.7 81.7 29.0 120.35 78.0 95.50 75.3 -6.9 1860 31.75 58.2 34.05 79.2 745 1361 731 156 271 3043 24.38 -1.09 -3.44 1.9 1197 18.34 97.3 -43.00 -0.5 -0.7 -1.82 3.88 77.06 4.7 -5.0 -426 -3.8 19.29 -0.6 103.9 1508 38.2 95. Goldman Sachs Global Economics.00 78.8 31. Monthly volatility change is difference of average volatility over the past month and that of the prior month (3-mo ATM implied volatility.11 1.0 650 1300 615 100 200 2700 24.68 85.35 37.9 653 1035 422 87 174 2863 20. 2011 Global Price actions.99 33.
and. with today’s release accelerating that move.September 30.00/bu to $5.800 454 449 .00/bu on the back of lower corn prices and higher wheat stocks. today’s release suggests that the recent record high wheat to corn price correlation will likely decline. Further.003 . as prices need to remain sufficiently elevated to prevent any meaningful consumption growth in the face of still low inventories.460 All Wheat Spring Winter HRW SRW Source: USDA.75/bu. The Stocks report has recently been the source of large surprises and today’s release extended that trend with September 1 stocks of corn and wheat well above our and consensus expectations.077 2. 2011 Grain Stocks USDA 1-Sep-10 Sep WASDE 1-Sep-11 1. Finally.00/bu but still expect that soybean prices will outperform corn prices. Bloomberg. 2.494 794 780 452 458 GS 2. Exhibit 1: The Grain Stocks report featured surprisingly large corn and wheat stocks Million bushels September 1.90/bu and $7.50/bu to $6.a.035 1. the USDA released its Grain Stocks and Annual Summary for Small Grains reports. (2) outperformance of soybean over corn prices.2. Goldman Sachs Global ECS Research estimates. This forecast is slightly above the current forward curve and we expect downside from current prices to be limited barring a European sovereign default or a US recession. We see three consequences to today’s releases: (1) lower agriculture prices as less demand destruction will be required.708 920 1. $13. 2011 Global Lowering crop price forecasts on sharply higher corn stocks Today. the required corn demand destruction we had expected will be smaller and we lower our corn price forecast from $7.35/bu to $6.240 2.50/bu and $6. $7. We expect these higher 2011/12 corn beginning stocks to more than offset our forecast for lower new-crop corn production on smaller harvested acreage. Interestingly.044 Consensus Average Range 220.127.116.11/bu on a 3.485 1. we lower our wheat price forecast from $7.515 791 779 .50/bu on a 12month horizon. Commodities and Strategy Research 4 .450 n.478 .008 580 514 1.000 Consensus Average Range 964 835 . As a result. We also lower our soybean price forecast from $13.143 Corn Soybeans Wheat 2011/12 US Wheat production 2010/11 2.40/bu. The next catalyst for prices will be the USDA’s October 12 Crop Production report which will feature updated US acreage and production estimates.50/bu.208 723 1. the tightening of the soybean balance relative to the corn balance will likely intensify the competition for US acreage next spring which had been significantly skewed in favor of corn.60/bu. With higher corn supplies and the window for wheat-to-corn feed substitution in the US closing.00/bu and $14. the recent collapse in soybean prices will potentially have a beneficial impact on Chinese inflation as local food inflation and CBOT soybean prices have exhibited a strong correlation over the past few years.00/bu and $13.569 1. $14.084 547 525 . $6.044 2.2. (3) a potentially faster decline to food inflation in China. Goldman Sachs Global Economics.050 225 202 .128 151 225 215 2. While we still expect a deficit for the 2011/12 US corn balance. the larger supplies will likely allow for both stronger demand and higher ending stocks than we had previously expected.497 1.150 GS 1.and 6-mo horizon and from $7. The combined higher wheat and corn stocks suggest that grain feeding over the past quarter was outright weak and that corn-to-wheat feed substitution was not as large as we had expected despite the record-low wheat-to-corn price differential.00/bu to $12.496 1.959 .018 238 USDA Aug WASDE 1-Sep-11 2.000 220 2.
that other forms of corn demand may have been weaker as well.128 million bushels (mmbu) came in well above the September WASDE level of 920 mmbu and even above our expectation for higher stocks at 1.345 4.221 4. It is possible.524 5.1 13.53 1.8 14. however.43 1.9% 83. today’s release points to the lowest corn feed and residual use for the June-August quarter on record.120 1.000 mmbu.000 881 13.5 13.700 1. Industrial Total Feed Corn Feed DDG Fuel (mm bu) Fuel (kb/d) Ethanol (bg/y) Exports Total Disposition (mm bu) Inventory Change (mm bu) Beginning Stocks Ending Stocks Stocks/Use Ratio GS 2010/11E 88.835 1.9% September WASDE USDA 2011/12E 92.7% 81.447 30 11.518 5.4 152. Exhibit 2: Higher corn stocks as of September 1 point to a looser 2011/12 US corn balance Million bushels September WASDE USDA 2010/11E 88.430 1. In fact.055 (578) 1.218 4.010 882 13.4% Source: USDA.S.130 8.524 5. This release implies that corn demand collapsed over the past quarter.9 148.459 20 11.447 30 11.220 1.185 12.110 1. such as ethanol.975 876 13.708 1.760 (248) 920 672 5.185 12./acre) Total Supply (mm bu) Production Imports Total Domestic Use (mm bu) Food.3 8.497 15 11.410 6. The USDA may also have underestimated last year’s corn production. the next key catalyst for corn prices will the USDA’s October 12 Crop Production report.675 12. While we still expect a large deficit in the 2011/12 US corn balance.410 6.7% GS 2011/12E 92.50 1. in turn creating upside risks to our US crop production forecast.2 7. Further. Seed. Corn Supply/Demand Balance Planting Analysis Area Planted (mm acres) Abandonment Rate Area Harvested (mm acres) Harvested Yield (bu.4 148. old-crop ending stocks are now 208 million bushels larger than previously forecasted by the USDA.650 12.4 152. We expect that these higher 2011/12 corn beginning stocks will more than offset our forecast for lower new-crop corn production on smaller harvested acreage.432 12.020 884 13.795 (316) 1.835 13. Given this lingering production uncertainty. we forecast that these larger beginning stocks will allow for both stronger demand and higher ending stocks than we had previously expected.609 12. All else constant.410 6. 2011 Global Higher corn stocks limit the need for corn demand destruction … The biggest surprise came from the old-crop corn stocks. recent harvest reports suggest that yields may be better than previously expected. the required corn demand destruction will likely be smaller and we lower our Goldman Sachs Global Economics.7% 81.3% U. but higher-than-expected wheat inventories suggests that this was not driven by corn-to-wheat feed substitution despite the record-low wheat-tocorn price differential. which at 1.835 13.September 30. In any case.708 920 6.1 8. feed demand may remain weak going forward with recent data pointing to lower broiler production and declining numbers of cattle on feed.2 7.55 1. where a combination of a better conversion rate than the USDA assumes and wheat inclusion may have pushed corn grind lower.700 1. Goldman Sachs Global ECS Research estimates.410 6. As a result.521 5.265 (788) 1.6% 84. Commodities and Strategy Research 5 .130 814 6.000 1.510 4.8 14.
10 2. 2011 Global corn price forecast from $7. Specifically.30 3.90 1.50 3. a further large decline in corn prices would likely spur stronger feed and export demand. a European sovereign default or a US recession would likely push corn prices lower although crop prices would likely hold up relatively better given the low level of inventories and the defensive nature of demand.35/bu to $6.70 2. for example to China. Goldman Sachs Global Economics. In turn. In particular. While under our pricing framework.50/bu on a 12-month horizon.15/bu on a 3. C Z2 (rhs) Source: CBOT. our economics team still expects positive though below trend growth in 2012 which would maintain gasoline and in turn ethanol domestic demand close to current levels. Exhibit 3: We expect today’s release to accelerate the soybean to corn price outperformance Soybean to corn price ratio 3.10 1. This forecast is slightly above the current forward curve and we expect downside from current prices to be limited barring a European sovereign default or a US recession. while risks of a US recession have recently increased. leaving our 2011/12 US soybean balance mostly unchanged.30 2. lower corn prices will weigh on soybean prices.September 30. Finally.and 6-mo horizon and from $7.00/bu to $5. We had expected this outperformance to materialize over the next 12 months on soybean acreage losses.90 2. we still expect low levels of 2011/12 corn inventories while prices need to remain sufficiently elevated to prevent any meaningful consumption growth. … and accelerate the outperformance of soybean over corn prices Soybean stocks of 215 mmbu came in below the September WASDE 225 mmbu level and were slightly lower than our expectation of 220 mmbu.70 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 Front month S X2 vs. however today’s release will likely accelerate this move as competition for US acreage next spring has intensified.50 2. Goldman Sachs Global ECS Research. Commodities and Strategy Research 6 . the relative tightening of the soybean balance relative to the corn balance points to soybean over corn price outperformance.
00/bu and $13. Exhibit 4: Most of the soybeans consumed in China are imported.00/bu and $14. China National Bureau of Statistics. China’s soybean demand growth has entirely been met by imports (Exhibit 4). However. While corn and wheat imports have been rare over the past decade. as well as soymeal prices and in turn pork prices of which it is the main feed source. we had locked in potential gains in early August by rolling the long Nov-11 CBOT future position initiated in November 2010 into a long Nov-11 soybean $14. Should this relationship continue to hold. 2011 Global Net. Goldman Sachs Global ECS Research. This means that not only has China’s remarkable protein consumption growth contributed to the tight global soybean balance over the past few years. Further. Our updated price forecast suggests little upside potential to our outstanding long soybean trade recommendation. Interestingly. China is self sufficient in every crop it consumes except for soybeans. which represents close to a third of the Chinese CPI. Source: CBOT. but also that China has to import soybeans at CBOT prices. Goldman Sachs Global Economics.September 30. Commodities and Strategy Research 7 . We are keeping this position open in case of a significant supply disruption in South America should the La Nina weather condition intensify this winter. the recent collapse in soybean prices and our expectation for continued lower prices suggests that Chinese food inflation could ease soon.00/bu.00/bu to $12. The next two catalysts for soybean prices will be the USDA’s October 12 Crop Production report which will feature updated US acreage and production estimates as well as the magnitude of the seasonal ramp up in Chinese imports of US soybeans given ongoing strong competition from large South American old crop supplies and a sharply weaker BRL exchange rate. CNY denominated CBOT soybean prices 80% 25% 50 60% 20% 40 40% 15% 30 20% 10% 20 0% 5% 10 -20% 0% 0 -40% 2001 -5% 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 Current 2008 2009 2010 2011 CBOT soybean prices (local currency) China food inflation (rhs) Corn Soybeans Wheat Source: USDA.75/bu. $14.60/bu. the recent collapse in soybean prices will potentially have a beneficial impact on Chinese food inflation. generating a strong dependency between local food prices and CBOT soybean prices (Exhibit 5).00/bu call position. We believe this relationship makes sense as soybean prices drive both soy oil prices. leaving little ability to offset elevated CBOT soybean prices China imports in million metric tons 60 Exhibit 5: Chinese food inflation has tracked CBOT soybean prices strongly Year-over-year changes in China food CPI vs. $13. Specifically. broadly used for cooking. food inflation and CBOT soybean prices converted in CNY have exhibited a remarkably strong correlation over the past few years. we are lowering our soybean price forecast from $13.
this was more than offset by weak feed demand over the past quarter despite the recordlow wheat to corn price differential.50/bu and $6. Weak wheat demand more than offsets lower US production While US spring wheat production was cut to levels below our and consensus expectations. We expect today’s release to weigh on wheat prices given the higher available supplies and as a result we are lowering our wheat price forecast from $7. today’s release suggests that the recent record-high wheat to corn price correlation will likely decline. Goldman Sachs Global ECS Research. Commodities and Strategy Research 8 . wheat stocks as of September 1 came in above both our and consensus expectations. We see the risk around this new forecast as balanced: Further upward revisions to global wheat production in the October WASDE present downside risk while continued dry weather in the US presents upside risk as it would prevent winter wheat planting.50/bu.90/bu and $7. we believe that this import demand was deferred. 2011 Global While the freeze on edible oil prices earlier this year and the release of cheaper government reserves have weighed on Chinese soybean imports year to date.40/bu. $6. not destroyed. $7. As a result. The lower soybean price environment should provide the catalyst for a strong increase in imports in coming months. Goldman Sachs Global Economics. our updated price forecast continues to embed a modest widening of the wheat-to-corn price differential. As a result. with higher corn supplies and the window for wheat-to-corn feed substitution in the US typically limited to the June-August quarter. with government inventories now needing to be rebuilt. and that wheat prices do not need to trade at parity with corn prices.September 30.80/bu to $6. Interestingly. Exhibit 6: Higher corn supplies suggest that the very high wheat to corn price correlation will likely ease 3-month rolling correlation of daily price returns 90% 80% 70% 60% 50% 40% 30% 20% 10% 0% Wheat to corn price correlation Source: CBOT.00/bu.
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