U.S. grains: Corn drops to lowest since March

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures fell 2.3 per cent on Thursday to their lowest in nearly seven weeks on a technical setback and forecasts for improved planting weather in northern areas of the U.S. Corn Belt by the weekend, traders said.

“The attitude is that the corn crop is going to get planted. The current cold conditions that certain parts of the country are experiencing are going to change next week,” said Tom Fritz, an analyst at EFG Group in Chicago.

Wheat and soybean futures also were lower, with wheat dropping for the seventh day in a row due to ample global supplies that chilled demand for U.S. offerings on the export market.

Chicago Board of Trade corn futures have fallen for four out of the last five days as the pace of planting has picked up in the U.S. Midwest following weeks of delays in key growing areas such as Iowa.

“The corn is moving lower again today as the market is working its way through the nearby support areas,” Sterling Smith, futures specialist with Citigroup, said in a note to clients. “Planting conditions and the weather is expected to improve by the weekend, and there should be improvement in the northern plains situation by next weekend.”

The benchmark CBOT July corn contract settled down 11-1/4 cents at $4.84-1/4 (all figures US$). The contract fell through the low end of the 20-day Bollinger range for the first time since Jan. 10.

The front-month CBOT wheat contract hit a three-week low. The seven-session losing streak has wiped out 7.4 per cent of the contract’s value.

CBOT July wheat was 12 cents lower at $6.78-1/4 a bushel.

“Traders are also looking at a wetter forecast this morning for stressed hard red winter wheat fields,” said Bryce Knorr, senior editor at Farm Futures magazine.

Scattered showers were possible in the central U.S. Plains from Friday into the weekend with a better chance for rain forecast for the end of next week, according to Commodity Weather Group’s outlook.

The U.S. Agriculture Department’s export sales report released on Thursday morning showed old-crop export sales of wheat were just 54,900 tonnes, below trade forecasts for 100,000 to 300,000 tonnes.

Old-crop corn export sales of 343,000 tonnes were in line with expectations while old-crop soybean export sales of 73,600 tonnes topped the range of analysts’ forecasts.

Soybean futures were down 1.5 per cent, falling to session lows after the National Oilseed Processors Association’s monthly crush data showed the pace of crushing was roughly in line with expectations during April.

Traders said a bigger-than-expected crush was needed to fuel buying at current levels.

CBOT soybeans for July delivery ended down 16-1/2 cents lower at $14.70-1/4 a bushel.

NOPA said processors crushed 132.667 million bu. of soybeans during April, the heaviest for the month in five years.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago.

 

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