For the week ending January 1, total inspections of grain (corn, wheat, soybeans) from all major export regions reached 2.2 million metric tons (mmt), down 6 percent from the past week, but up 24 1 percent from last year, and 14 percent above the 3-year average.
Despite the drop in total grain inspections, wheat inspections (.351 mmt) jumped 45 percent from the previous week. Shipments of wheat destined to Asia were up over 100 percent from the past week.
Corn and soybean inspections, however, continued to decrease. Pacific Northwest grain inspections increased 2 percent from the past week and Mississippi Gulf inspections remained the same.
Grain transportation demand could increase in the coming weeks as indicated by the additional reported corn and soybean export sales to Japan, Mexico, and China after the week ending December 25.
Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Assists in West Coast Labor Negotiations
In response to a joint request for assistance from the parties, collective bargaining between International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) representatives will continue as soon as possible under the auspices of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service (FMCS). FMCS is prepared and ready to render prompt assistance.
The FMCS announcement reports Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh, a senior FMCS mediator with extensive collective bargaining experience in this industry, has been assigned to help the parties bring these important negotiations to a mutually acceptable resolution.
As is Agency practice, the FMCS is not releasing information regarding future meeting dates and locations. In addition, the FMCS will have no further comment at this time regarding the status or substance of the negotiations.
Fuel Prices Drop Due to Robust Global Production
Diesel fuel prices fell 8 cents per gallon to $3.14 during the week ending January 5. Fuel prices have fallen 47 cents per gallon over the past 5 weeks. The Energy Information Administration reports that crude oil prices fell sharply in the fourth quarter of 20 14 as robust global production exceeded demand.
“After reaching monthly peaks of $112 per barrel (bbl) and $105/bbl in June, crude oil benchmarks Brent and West Texas Intermediate (WTI) fell to $62/bbl and $59/bbl in December, respectively. Brent prices fell be low the five-year average in early September and WTI prices have been below the five-year average since early October. Domestic crude oil production increased 1.2 million barrels per day (bbl/d) in 2014, up 16 percent from 2013. At 8.6 million bbl/d, U.S. production is at the highest level in nearly 30 years.”
Snapshots by Sector
Export Sales During the week ending December 18, unshipped balances of wheat, corn, and soybeans totaled 34.4 mmt, 14 percent lower than at the same time last year. Corn export sales reached .843 mmt, down 46 percent from the previous week. Wheat reached 0.354 mmt, up 21 percent, and soybeans, at 0.611 mmt, were up 6 percent.
Rail U.S. railroads originated 19,379 carloads of grain during the week ending December 27, down 23 percent from last week, up 7 percent from last year, and up 2.6 percent from the 3-year average. During the week ending January 1, average January shuttle secondary railcar bids/offers per car were $275 below tariff, down $188 from last week and $1,954 lower than last year. There were no non-shuttle bids/offers.
Barge During the week ending January 3 barge grain movements totaled 465,550 tons–23.7 percent lower than the previous week and 26.8 percent lower than the same period last year. During the week ending January 3, 289 grain barges moved down river, down 24.7 percent from last week; 618 grain barges were unloaded in New Orleans, up 29 percent from the previous week.
Ocean During the week ending January 1, 41 ocean-going grain vessels were loaded in the Gulf, 2.4 percent less than the same period last year. Sixty-nine vessels are expected to be loaded within the next 10 days, 13.8 percent less than the same period last year. During the week ending January 2, the ocean freight rate for shipping bulk grain from the Gulf to Japan was $39.00 per mt, down 2.5 percent from the previous week. The cost of shipping from the PNW to Japan was $21.00 per mt, down 2.3 percent from the previous week.