Handling delays due to day-only unloading restrictions and high water on the Lower Mississippi River, which caused about a week delay in unloading import cargoes at the peak of the period , further complicated barge transactions in March. River terminal prices along the upper and lower sections edged down from March highs at $ 410- $ 430 / t FOB, but still exceeded February bids at $ 380- $ 390 / t FOB .
At the plant level, bids were reported between $ 450 and $ 460 / t FOB in eastern Oklahoma, up from $ 400 to $ 420 in late February. Port Neal, Iowa urea rose from similar levels to $ 460 / t FOB during one of the last weeks of river closures as barges are now able to transit up Mississippi again , which will help balance supplies in markets north of Cincinnati and St.. Louis.
We expect urea prices to firm up in the near term as pre-plant applications end and application needs arise, especially if urea remains at its current discount from. at UAN on a per unit nitrogen basis.
With many positions hedged at the time of India’s tender announcement, the global urea market was seen at a stalemate for most of March. Questions about how much volume China and the GA can supply to India fueled concern among traders and buyers who had chosen to defer their purchases.
On the last day of the month, India accepted a total of 802,500 mt in its latest tender for the purchase of urea, which closed on March 22 for shipments from the ports of loading by April 28 at the latest, only about half of the over 1.93 million mt originally offered. , in part because of shipping constraints for suppliers.
The largely flat market in March was dotted with pockets of firmness, such as Egypt, where prices fell from $ 385 to $ 390 / t FOB to $ 400 at the end of March, and high freight from the Arabian Gulf to NOLA worried consumers. producers and traders. look alike. Brazil had also shown largely upward trends throughout the month, at $ 395- $ 408 / t CFR at the end of the month, from $ 385- $ 390 the month before.
Following the tender in India, the urea market ended March somewhat sluggish as the Easter holidays caused activity to slow down for the month as traders waited for the Indian result before to take new positions.
Offers have remained more or less unchanged since UAN growers offered volumes following production interruptions in February and have not come under too much upward pressure with the planting season in the United States. and application activities were pushed back later in the season by bands of rain in the central and eastern United States.
The initial March bids were about $ 100 / t higher than the February bids before the arrival of winter storm Uri in the US Gulf. The storm brought the NOLA UAN 32% barges to the $ 300 / t FOB level where they remained for much of March with low liquidity due to fast and slow demand.
With most of the nitrogen production now restored, river terminal volumes for UAN have also been offered at NOLA barge-compliant levels at $ 325- $ 330 / t FOB at the main terminals in Cincinnati and St. Louis. Meanwhile, on the east coast of the United States, the price of Russian import volumes rose to $ 310 / mt CFR due to rising freight costs in the absence of large volume exchanges in March. .
With many in the market having already filled their tanks by the end of 2020, UAN’s rapid sales are not expected to increase significantly until sidedress demands start to empty the tanks in the coming weeks. This should help keep prices stable in the UAN market, as it remains superior to urea in nitrogen content following the higher offers in March. We expect UAN prices to be stable in the near term, with some possible strengthening as demand picks up.
Some P&K application activity had started on the US east coast by mid-March, but precipitation in the Corn Belt and southern plains delayed the start of spring applications until later in the last days of March. before Easter. As a result, phosphate barge transactions slowed in March ahead of requests, but tight supply continued to support prices, particularly in the interior of the United States.
DAP barges were trading between $ 538 and $ 542 / t FOB for fast shipping from NOLA at the end of March, compared to $ 518 to $ 530 at the start of the month. MAP changed hands at a lower price of $ 564 to $ 575 for loading in late March / first half of April, compared to $ 570 to $ 581 / t FOB during the first half of March. However, both would continue to see a large amount of offset – to the tune of $ 50 to $ 60 / t – between ship barges in early and late April.
DAP river terminal prices were mostly flat week over week to end the month, but fell $ 5 on the high end to $ 570 – $ 590 / t FOB, against higher bids from $ 595 in February.
In March, the U.S. International Trade Commission also formalized its rulings on countervailing duties on phosphates of Moroccan and Russian origin after the petition received a majority affirmative vote earlier this month. The rates remained unchanged after previous Commerce Department adjustments to nearly 20% on Moroccan phosphates and 9% to 47% on Russian product depending on the supplier.
Phosphate prices in the United States are expected to strengthen in the near term once P&K applications become more widespread and existing volumes from fall purchases are processed through the system. But strong demands in the second half of 2020 could help ease some pressure on spring supplies.
The pace of activity on the phosphate market slowed down during the second half of March. Against a backdrop of slowing demand in India, Chinese DAP prices took a weaker tone, alongside slowing demand for phosphate in Europe contributing to some softening in March.
A major Indian buyer was negotiating for the Saudi DAP at the end of the month, but it was not clear whether this meant the start of a wave of significant import demand amid low stocks or more in an attempt to define the next round of highly anticipated government grants on phosphates. . DAP prices overall ended March at $ 515 / t CFR, down from $ 445 to $ 446 the month before.
Meanwhile, in Brazil, MAP prices fell to $ 620- $ 630 / t CFR on relatively lackluster demand, down $ 15 from month highs but still $ 30 above levels of. prices in February.
The outlook for global phosphates is stable in the near term, however, with the potential still latent for a good season in India ahead as well as the European DAP seeing higher prices for those who need the tonnes fast.
NOLA granular potash barges are valued between $ 310 and $ 320 / t FOB due to another evident slowdown as barge trade declined in March. P&K applications were further delayed by inclement weather during the month, despite some progress on the east coast with intermittent rains sweeping through much of the country. Barge values ââreflect a $ 15 month-over-month drop ahead of an expected surge when the weather is expected to improve.
Volumes at the Mississippi River terminal are also mostly stable at $ 350- $ 365 / t FOB with very little movement to speak of, with mine prices in Saskatchewan and New Mexico remaining stable at $ 350 / t FOB . However, Intrepid Potash announced a $ 20 / t increase in its specialty potash product.
Potash prices are expected to rise further when applications and fieldwork begin, but values ââremain stable in the near term. In the meantime, international potash contracts are still being settled, with major producers expected to make additional efforts in negotiations after Belarus Potash Company’s earlier settlements fell well short of market expectations, according to statements. releases from several other major producers earlier this year.
Editor’s Note: This information was provided courtesy of Fertecon, Agribusiness Intelligence, IHS Markit.
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