U.S. grains: Corn hits nine-month high

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures rallied to a nine-month peak and wheat rose to its highest in nearly seven weeks on Wednesday, supported by a round of short-covering amid persistent concerns about adverse weather curtailing harvest expectations for both grains, traders said.

Soybean futures also were firm, with U.S. President Donald Trump’s announcement on Tuesday that the United States would likely reach a trade agreement with China raising hopes of a resumption in purchases from the world’s largest buyer of the oilseed.

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Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat gained the most, with the most-active contract rising 2.9 per cent to its highest since March 8.

“Crop conditions are the worst we have seen in 20-plus some years,” said Greg Grow, director of agribusiness at Archer Financial Services. “Despite recent rainfall, it appears that we are going to have pretty poor yield prospects.”

Chicago Board of Trade May soft red winter wheat futures were up 13-3/4 cents at $4.86-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). Prices found technical support overnight after dropping to the 200-day moving average.

“Funds have been short,” said Karl Setzer, market analyst at MaxYield Cooperative. “We are starting to see a little risk premium added to that market.”

CBOT May corn futures were up 5-1/4 cents at $3.86-1/2 a bushel. The most-active contract topped out at $3.96-1/2 a bushel, the highest since July 25.

Despite forecasts for improving weather for seeding in the next few weeks, farmers were still well behind schedule for corn planting. In Iowa, typically the largest producer, farmers had seeded none of their intended corn acreage as of April 23, according to USDA data.

CBOT May soybean futures were 5-1/4 cents higher at $10.27-1/2 a bushel.

Soybeans struggled to break above their weekly high hit on Monday, with persisting concerns about slowing exports hanging over the market despite signs of easing trade tensions.

China’s purchases of U.S. soybeans have ground to a halt, with no fresh sales announced in more than two weeks as fear of further action by Beijing to curb imports of U.S. crops rattles the agriculture industry following last week’s anti-dumping move on sorghum.

— Mark Weinraub reports on grain markets for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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