U.S. grains: Corn sags, soy posts longest weekly skid in 30 months

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures drifted to a one-week low on Friday as traders adjusted positions ahead of a monthly U.S. government report that analysts expect to show rising grain inventories and big South American crops.

Soybeans closed narrowly mixed but the most-active contract posted a fifth weekly decline, its longest losing streak in 30 months, weighed down by rising global supplies.

Wheat ended little changed after a choppy session.

Chicago Board of Trade May corn settled down 1-1/4 cents at $3.59-1/2 per bushel (all figures US$). May soybeans rose 1/2 cent to $9.42 a bushel and May wheat finished up 3/4 cent at $4.24 a bushel.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is scheduled to release its monthly supply/demand report on Tuesday, and analysts surveyed by Reuters expect the government to raise its estimates of corn and soybean crops in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Trade is fully expecting to see larger crops for Argentina and Brazil; the only question is how much larger,” MaxYield analyst Karl Setzer wrote in a note to clients.

Improving prospects for Brazil’s soy harvest and projections for a jump in U.S. soybean plantings for 2017 have hung over soybean futures since early March.

The five-week slide in the CBOT’s most-active soybean contract represents its longest weekly losing run since September 2014.

“We are caught is a bearish trend, U.S. soybean planting outlook looks good and South American production is so big,” said Kaname Gokon at brokerage Okato Shoji in Tokyo.

“We don’t see any recovery in prices unless there is a big weather issue in the United States.”

Traders also kept an eye on meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, given China’s role as the biggest buyer of U.S. soybeans.

Trump said on Friday he had made progress in talks with Xi and expected them to overcome many problems, a marked contrast to the stridently anti-China rhetoric of Trump’s 2016 election campaign.

Soybean futures found some support earlier this week after rain threatened to disrupt the harvest in key supplier Argentina.

But harvesting in the country accelerated in the past week despite heavy rain and floods in the western portion of the country’s growing area, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said on Thursday.

For the week, CBOT corn fell 1.3 per cent and wheat fell 0.6 per cent.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Nigel Hunt in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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