U.S. grains: Corn, wheat fall but close above session lows

Chicago/Reuters – U.S. wheat futures fell on Friday, with key contracts hitting all-time lows as the outlook for Canadian plantings topped expectations and threatened to add to the already abundant global stockpile, traders said.

Corn futures also eased, dipping to their lowest since late December, on expectations of improving weather for planting in the U.S. Midwest in the coming weeks. Both corn and wheat closed above session lows as investors stepped in to cover short positions ahead of the weekend.

Soybean futures edged higher on bargain buying although the weather outlook limited the gains.

“Long-term forecasts out Thursday show generally good conditions for planting in May, with above-normal temperatures over most of the growing region this summer outside the northwest Corn Belt,” Farm Futures senior analyst Bryce Knorr said in a note to clients.

Chicago Board of Trade July corn futures ended down 1/2 cent at $3.63-3/4 a bushel. They bottomed out at $3.60-3/4, their lowest since Dec. 30.

CBOT July soft red winter wheat was off 3/4 cent at $4.21 a bushel after touching a contract low of $4.16-1/4. Several other CBOT wheat contracts and K.C. hard red winter wheat contracts also hit new lows.

Statistics Canada pegged the country’s all-wheat area at 23.2 million acres, down 0.1 percent from last year. The estimate was bigger than traders and analysts expected. Canola seedings were forecast at a record 22.4 million acres.

Rain forecasts for key U.S. wheat-growing areas, which will shepherd the crop through its final stages of development, added pressure to prices.

“Weather concerns had been overplayed earlier,” said National Australia Bank agribusiness economist Phin Ziebell. “We are looking at another great year for wheat supplies even though U.S. acreage is down. Yields are looking really good.”

Improving prospects for the upcoming U.S. harvest have kept the focus on ample global supplies and offset concerns about dryness in France and other parts of Western Europe.

Farming agency FranceAgriMer said on Friday that 85 percent of the French soft wheat crop was good to excellent in the week to April 17, down from 89 per cent a week earlier in the second successive weekly decline.

CBOT July soybean futures rose four cents to $9.60-3/4 a bushel.

A fresh export deal helped soybeans recover from early weakness.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said private exporters reported the sale of 146,000 tonnes of soybeans for delivery to unknown destinations during the 2016-17 marketing year.

– Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris

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