U.S. grains: CBOT May corn retreats after 7-1/2-year high

Deferred corn contracts climb; May soy, wheat also down

CBOT May 2021 corn with Bollinger (20,2) bands. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. nearby corn futures declined on Thursday on profit-taking after the benchmark contract climbed to its highest since 2013, bolstered by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report that projected smaller-than-expected plantings and rekindled worries over global grain supplies.

Nearby soybean futures also fell on profit-taking, after a limit-up rally a day earlier.

However, deferred futures contracts for corn and soybeans rose, gaining against nearby contracts on spreads, as USDA’s plantings report shifted the market’s focus to the 2021 harvest.

Chicago Board of Trade May corn settled down 4-1/2 cents at $5.59-3/4 per bushel, turning lower after reaching $5.85, the highest price on a continuous chart of the most-active corn contract since June 2013 (all figures US$). But the new-crop December contract settled up seven cents at $4.84-1/2.

CBOT May soybeans tumbled 34-3/4 cents, finishing at $14.02 a bushel, while new-crop November soybeans ended up 7-1/2 cents at $12.63-3/4.

“The real story Wednesday was the shortage of acres. As such, today’s strength is in the new-crop contracts to encourage acreage expansion, while the old-crop contracts see profit-taking,” Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist for StoneX, wrote in a client note.

Wheat futures declined amid favourable growing conditions across the Northern Hemisphere. CBOT May wheat settled down seven cents at $6.11 a bushel.

U.S. farmers plan to sow 91.1 million acres with corn this year, the most since 2016, and 87.6 million acres with soybeans, the most since 2018, USDA said Wednesday. However, both estimates were well below analyst expectations for 93.2 million corn acres and 89.996 million soybean acres.

“The USDA’s March 2021 Prospective Plantings reports were a massive, bullish surprise in corn and soy as expectations for a record 183 million combined acres were dashed by the Herculean difficulty of growing U.S. acreage by six per cent in one year,” Rabobank analysts said in a note.

USDA’s planting estimates have revived concern about tightening global supplies after importers led by China and domestic processors loaded up on grain and oilseeds this season. The U.S. is the world’s biggest corn exporter and the No. 2 soybean supplier.

Most U.S. markets will be closed on Friday in observance of the Good Friday holiday.

— Reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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