U.S. grains: Corn, wheat futures back away from peaks

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures eased on Thursday on a round of profit-taking following a rally to a nine-month high, with forecasts for improved planting weather in key growing areas also weighing on prices, traders said.

“The central and southern Midwest and Delta should finally see an extended stretch of drier weather, lasting through the middle of next week,” said Don Keeney, senior agricultural meteorologist for Radiant Solutions.

“Temperatures will also be warming considerably across the region by early next week, allowing producers to finally get into the fields and get their crops in the ground.”

Profit-taking also pressured wheat futures, which had surged 3.1 per cent on Wednesday on concerns about crop health in the U.S. Plains.

Declines in both corn and wheat were kept in check as buyers stepped into the market when prices found support at key technical points.

Soybean futures edged higher on hopes of a pickup in demand from China, the world’s top buyer of the oilseed. But gains were capped as the benchmark CBOT July soybean contract failed to break through its 30-day moving average.

“Wheat and corn are seeing a pullback today in some selling as profits are taken after their strong rises,” said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager with INTL FCStone. “Soybeans are gaining support from a range of factors including hopes about negotiations in the U.S.-China trade dispute.”

Chicago Board of Trade July corn futures ended down 1/2 cent at $3.95-1/4 a bushel, while CBOT July soft red winter wheat was off 9-1/2 cents at $4.89-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$).

“The wheat market had got excited about dryness/freeze impacts in the U.S. Plains and this was reflected by money flows and wheat has risen about 36 cents in just over two days,” Ammermann said.

“The weather outlook has not changed dramatically overnight, but today the market is assessing whether these gains can hold.”

CBOT July soybeans were up 1/4 cent at $10.39-1/2 a bushel, with a bearish export sales report hanging over the market.

USDA said that weekly export sales of soybeans came in at 537,800 tonnes (old-crop and new-crop combined), down from 2.13 million tonnes a week ago. Analysts had expected soybean export sales in a range from 800,000 tonnes to 1.4 million tonnes.

Corn export sales of 620,500 tonnes, down from 1.20 million tonnes, also were well below trade expectations. Export sales of wheat totaled 577,900 tonnes.

— Mark Weinraub reports on grain markets for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Michael Hogan in Hamburg.

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