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U.S. grains: Corn, wheat post small gains

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Board of Trade corn futures inched higher in end-of-week consolidation trade on Friday, supported by some fresh global supply concerns and stronger-than-expected export data, traders said.

Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat also firmed slightly, with mild short-covering lending support. Ample global supplies but weak demand for U.S. exports weighed on the sector. K.C. hard red winter wheat and MGEX spring wheat futures posted lower closes.

Soybean futures were weaker, with the market retreating from early strength amid forecasts for crop-boosting rain in both Brazil and Argentina. Traders also noted some farmer sales at the market’s peak. The declines were kept in check as technical buyers entered the market when prices hit session lows.

For the week, corn rose 1.9 per cent. Soybean futures fell 0.3 per cent during the week while wheat rose 0.4 per cent.

Corn’s gains were limited as the market hit resistance as it neared the one-month high hit earlier in the week.

Chicago Board of Trade March corn futures settled up 3-1/4 cents at $3.70-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). CBOT March wheat ended 1/2 cent higher at $4.75-1/2 a bushel.

“Grain markets are also stabilizing as oil rebounds. But sentiment is still pretty depressed,” Pierre Begoc of consultancy Agritel said.

Brazil’s agriculture minister said on Friday the country will auction 500,000 tonnes of maize corn from public stocks to help ease a recent spike in local prices. Local grain markets have been concerned about aggressive selling of corn in recent months that has left local feed suppliers short on supplies.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said weekly export sales of corn for the 2015-16 marketing year totalled 1.158 million tonnes, the most in eight weeks. USDA also said exporters booked another 189,000 tonnes of corn sales for shipment in 2016-17.

Russia’s grain exports in December hit a record high of 3.8 million tonnes, owing to a weak rouble making Russian grain more competitive on global dollar-denominated markets, SovEcon agriculture consultancy said.

Forecasts for extreme cold in Russia and Ukraine in the coming days could stir weather concerns for wheat, although snow cover was expected to limit the risk of frost damage, analysts said.

CBOT March soybeans were down two cents at $8.76-1/2 a bushel.

Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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