USDA to adjust format of monthly supply/demand report

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Chicago | Reuters — The U.S. Department of Agriculture will revise its monthly world supply and demand crop reports starting in May to try to account for the outsized role of China’s global grain stocks, a government official said on Tuesday, confirming a note on a USDA website.

Starting with its May 10 report, the USDA’s world agricultural supply and demand estimates (WASDE) tables for major crops will include a column showing global beginning stocks, production, imports, domestic use, exports and ending stocks after subtracting the amounts for China.

In its April report, released on Tuesday, USDA projected world stocks of wheat remaining at the end of the 2018-19 marketing year at 275.6 million tonnes worldwide, the second-highest on record. China’s ending stocks, at nearly 140 million tonnes, represented 51 per cent of the total.

Some analysts believe USDA’s global stocks figure gave a potentially misleading impression of abundance because China exports only a small fraction of its wheat supply — expected at 1.2 million tonnes in 2018-19.

The WASDE reports, released on or around the 10th of each month, set the tone for global grain markets and often jolt Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) corn, wheat and soybean futures.

The reports detail USDA’s official crop production and usage estimates for the United States as well as other major global producers.

USDA estimated that China held two-thirds of the world’s projected 2018-19 ending stocks of rice and corn and about one-fifth of projected soybean stocks.

Also in May, USDA will amend its lists of “major exporters” for various crops, adding Russia and Ukraine into that category for wheat and corn, among other changes.

Russia has been the world’s biggest wheat exporter for the last two marketing years.

On its domestic supply and demand tables, USDA will replace its price range forecasts with single price points for all crops and livestock.

USDA delayed making similar changes to its monthly reports a year ago.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago.

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