Soybean basis was up 3 cents for the week as strong export business continues to lift interior basis levels. Robust business to China and others has helped fuel cash movement to Gulf ports. Year-to-date export shipments for soybeans are 57% higher than this time last year, and up 44% compared to the 5-year average pace of shipments at this time of year.
At the Gulf, soybean basis bids were up 4 cents for the week, but many river markets got an added lift as barge rates backed off from their recent rally. For the week, river terminals across the U.S. posted an average 10-cent gain in basis levels. There were, however, areas of weakness in the East Coast as harvest continues in the Carolinas and Mid-Atlantic. Also, Iowa had key soybean plants also backing off on basis which caused some weakness in Eastern Iowa.
For corn, the lack of export business has kept basis levels tied to domestic user needs. This week New Energy Corp ethanol in Northern Indiana reported that it would layoff 40 employees and idle production until economic conditions improve. With high corn prices and relatively weak ethanol, margin levels for ethanol plants continue to be slim, posting a 60% loss compared to this time last year.
Across the U.S., average corn basis levels posted a modest half-cent increase. However, ethanol plants backed off their basis by a half-cent over the past week. River markets and Gulf export bids were higher this week, suggesting export business may begin picking up. Indeed, a sale of 500,000 MT to Japan was announced this morning, a nice change from recent weeks of dismal corn business.