November 28, 2008

Asia Grain Outlook on Friday: Corn imports at modest pace for the first quarter of 2009


Asian corn buying for the first quarter of 2009 is likely to continue at a modest pace for the next several weeks as major importers South Korea and Japan are buying cautiously, expecting prices to fall further in the coming days.


The Chicago Board of Trade began trading Friday morning after being closed Thursday for the Thanksgiving Day holiday in the U.S.


Corn futures are barely changed from Wednesday's close, with December corn contract up 1 cent at US$3.55/bushel.


Late Thursday, South Korean feed buying association Major Feedmill Group bought 55,000 metric tonnes of optional-origin corn at US$169/tonne, cost and freight included, in a tender.


"This is the cheapest corn import by any South Korean company so far this year," a group official said, adding that the corn will be delivered in South Korea between Jan 15 and Feb 5.


The official added that the Major Feedmill Group is coordinating with another major feed-buying group, Korea Feed Association, to plan further purchases.


On the other hand, Japanese buyers have bought 600,000 metric tonnes corn so far in November, as the country began its imports for the first quarter of 2009 this month, a senior official at a Tokyo-based grains broking firm said Friday.


The official, who didn't wish to be named, said Japanese buyers have - for the first time - bought 75,000-90,000 tonnes of corn of Ukraine origin as part of their imports this month. The corn is to be delivered in Japan in January or February.


While U.S.-origin corn costs around US$195/tonne, cost and freight included, the Ukraine-origin corn was bought around US$180/tonne.


The official added that Japanese buyers are in no hurry to complete their purchase of 4 million tonnes of targeted corn imports for the first quarter of 2009 as they expect Chicago Board of Trade corn futures to fall further.


He said Japanese buyers will likely conclude their first quarter 2009 corn imports only by mid-February.


Japan is the world's biggest corn importer and buys most of its corn from the U.S.

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