Higher oat stocks expected, CBOT futures weak

(Doug Wilson photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

CNS Canada — CBOT (Chicago Board of Trade) oats are relatively weak, but fairly priced from where one U.S. analyst sits — and traders are looking to an upcoming Statistics Canada report for indication on where to move next.

“Just looking at the market in general, oats are somewhat cheap, but right now I think they’re priced right,” said Terry Reilly, senior commodity analyst at Futures International.

High supplies and a lack of fresh news amid turbulence in outside markets are dragging on futures, Reilly said.

Investor short-covering will likely come into play ahead of Thursday’s StatsCan report, which Reilly expects to reflect higher oat stocks compared with a year ago.

Reilly estimated Statistics Canada’s ending stocks report to show oat supplies at 2.65 million tonnes as of Dec. 31, compared with 2.553 million tonnes the year prior.

Some Canadian analysts expect ending stocks to be even higher, at 3.1 million tonnes.

“But a lot of people are watching Canadian weather,” he said, adding that U.S. storms could also support prices.

While the slight increase in oat stocks will likely drive prices lower, the biggest influencers at play are in outside markets, especially as sharply weaker crude oil futures pressure commodity markets, Reilly said.

“And with a lack of news in the oats market, it probably makes that market a little more vulnerable than maybe corn or wheat.”

Traditionally, oats follow corn futures, though corn has built a premium against oats.

In early activity on Tuesday, CBOT corn futures sat at about US$3.6975 per bushel in the March contract, while oats sat at about US$1.985 per bushel.

“We could certainly see that spread narrow a little bit,” Reilly said. “But the price relationship seems to be about right, in my opinion.”

Jade Markus writes for Commodity News Service Canada, a Winnipeg company specializing in grain and commodity market reporting.

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