U.S. grains: Corn, wheat tumble; soybeans scramble to flat finish

Corn and wheat prices fell on Tuesday, as the huge U.S. corn harvest wrapped up and investors banked profits from a wheat rally, while soybeans clawed back earlier losses.

Corn lost 1.5 per cent as the previous day’s short-covering by funds dried up, leaving few supportive factors to offset big global supplies of the golden grain, said Bill Gary, president of Commodity Information Systems in Oklahoma City.

“The world is just overrun with corn this year,” he said.

The U.S. corn harvest was 95 per cent complete by Sunday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said after markets closed on Monday, ahead of the five-year average of 91 per cent for this point in the year and in line with trade expectations.

U.S. corn production will set a record high of 13.989 billion bushels this year, exceeding last year’s drought-shortened harvest by 30 per cent, the USDA said on Nov. 8.

CBOT December corn futures shed 1.5 per cent, or 6-1/4 cents, at $4.18-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$).

Chicago Board Of Trade January soybeans recovered from earlier losses to finish flat at $13.29-1/4 a bushel, within sight of Monday’s two-month high of $13.34-1/2. Soybeans were dragged upward as December soymeal soared to a contract high, reflecting tight cash supplies.

The nearby soybean contract had finished higher three straight sessions until ending unchanged. Back soybean months finished lower.

Strong export demand has propelled soybeans recently, but investors took a mixed message from Tuesday’s USDA sales reports.

USDA reported the sale of 360,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to unknown destinations for delivery during the 2013-14 marketing year. It also reported the cancellation of 300,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans previously sold to China for 2013/14.

The cancellation may have whipped up doubts about the strength of Chinese demand, just as South American farmers plant their own soybean crops that will compete with U.S. supplies, Gary said.

“We believe that China has really overbought these beans,” he said. China is the world’s top soybean importer.

USDA also said Monday that exporters had sold 120,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to unknown destinations for 2014-15 delivery. That was on top of sales confirmed by USDA on Friday of 115,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China.

CBOT December wheat lost 0.9 per cent, or six cents, at $6.46-1/2 a bushel, snapping a three-day winning streak. The front month rose to a two-week high of $6.55 on Monday, helped by worries about harvests in Argentina and Australia that could bolster demand for U.S. wheat.

USDA, in its weekly crop report on Monday, said 62 per cent of the wheat crop was in good to excellent condition, down from 63 per cent a week ago and in line with expectations.

— Rod Nickel is a Reuters correspondent based in Winnipeg. Additional reporting for Reuters by Mark Weinraub in Chicago, Nigel Hunt in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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