U.S. grains: Soy, corn slide on macroeconomic fears, biofuel worries

CBOT, MGEX December wheats also down

CBOT December 2021 soybeans (candlesticks) with Bollinger bands (20,2). (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. soybean futures fell to their lowest in nearly two months on Friday and corn set a near one-month low on macroeconomic concerns along with beneficial rains in the western Midwest and Plains, analysts said.

Soyoil futures fell more than five per cent on reports that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will recommend lowering the nation’s biofuel blending mandates for 2021.

Wheat futures followed the weaker trend. Chicago Board of Trade December wheat closed Friday at $7.28-1/4 a bushel, down 14-1/2 cents from Thursday, while Minneapolis (MGEX) December spring wheat closed at $9.02-1/4, down 2-1/4 cents (all figures US$).

CBOT November soybeans settled down 29-1/4 cents at $12.90-3/4 per bushel after dipping to $12.77-1/4, the contract’s lowest since June 28.

Benchmark December soyoil settled down 3.27 cents at 56.65 cents/lb., paring losses after falling its daily 3.5-cent maximum. CBOT December corn ended down 13-3/4 cents at $5.37 a bushel after hitting $5.32-1/2, its lowest since July 26.

Soyoil is the main U.S. feed stock for biodiesel fuel and corn is used for ethanol. The EPA is expected to recommend to the White House reducing federal biofuel blending mandates for 2021 to below 2020 levels, two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday, in what would be a blow to the biofuels industry.

The EPA also is expected to make a separate recommendation to boost the blending mandates for 2022 above the previous two years, according to the sources.

Grains faced additional pressure from concerns about global economic growth amid rising coronavirus cases, which have weighed down crude oil and boosted safe-haven assets like gold.

“We are seeing a risk-off session,” said Terry Reilly, senior analyst with Futures International in Chicago. “There are global economic concerns … That is shaking up the commodity markets in general,” Reilly said.

Commodity funds hold a net long position in CBOT corn and soybean futures, leaving those markets prone to bouts of long liquidation.

Also, forecasts called for beneficial rains through this weekend in the Dakotas and surrounding U.S. crop areas that have struggled with months of drought.

“The heaviest rainfall is expected in North Dakota, which should finally begin to ease dryness, although the rain is likely coming too late to dramatically improve crop yields,” space technology company Maxar said in a note.

Meanwhile, the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour, which concluded late Thursday, projected above-average corn yield prospects in Iowa and below-average prospects in Minnesota.

After the CBOT close, Pro Farmer projected that U.S. farmers would harvest a corn crop of 15.116 billion bushels and a soybean crop of 4.436 billion bushels, both larger than the USDA’s latest estimates.

— Reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago, Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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