April 9, 2004



USDA Lowers 2003-04 Wheat Ending Stocks Forecast By 13 Million Bushels

The U.S. Department of Agriculture Thursday lowered its forecast for 2003-04 U.S. wheat ending stocks to 531 million bushels, a 13-million-bushel decrease from its March forecast of 544 million.
The USDA, in its monthly supply and demand report, said the decrease was due mainly to increased export activity. The USDA said it is now predicting exports will reach 1.165 billion bushels in 2003-04, 15 million more bushels than a month ago.
The forecasts were changed, the USDA said, "because of increased world import demand and the strong pace of exports to date." U.S. exports of white wheat are seen rising by 10 million bushels and soft red winter wheat is expected to be 5 million bushels more than previously expected.
Egypt, Mexico, Morocco and Iraq are some of the countries the USDA said will be importing more wheat than expected. China, however, is now expected to export more wheat in 2003-04, according to the supply and demand report. The USDA raised the export forecast for China to 2.5 million metric tons, up from the March prediction of 2.2 million.
"China's exports of low-quality wheat rise as it continues to liquidate stocks held over from previous years," USDA said.
The USDA's forecast for lower 2003-04 U.S. wheat carryout was generally expected by analysts, but some based those expectations on higher feed usage. USDA left its forecast for wheat feed unchanged at 225 million bushels.

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