U.S. grains: Soybeans slump on trade worries, good weather

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures slid for a fifth straight session on Friday and registered the steepest weekly decline in 10 months as favourable U.S. crop weather and concerns over slowing export trade weighed on prices.

Corn futures edged up on short-covering after dipping to multi-month lows on good Midwest crop weather. Wheat futures retreated after three days of gains on profit-taking ahead of the weekend.

Rainy conditions across the heart of the Midwest farm belt pressured grain prices this week as recently planted corn and soybean crops are off to a strong start to the growing season. The U.S. Agriculture Department’s crop condition ratings are among the highest on record for both crops.

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Grain traders, meanwhile, remain cautious as trade tensions heightened between the U.S. and key importers such as China and Mexico.

“We have good conditions and a fairly non-threatening forecast so we’ve taken a lot of the weather premium out. That has been compounded by uncertainty about trade,” said Ted Seifried, analyst with Zaner Ag Hedge.

“Since we continued to move forward with our tariffs, China has been very noticeably absent from the market, especially on new-crop bean purchases,” he said of the world’s top soybean importer.

Chicago Board of Trade July soybeans fell five cents to $9.69-1/4 a bushel after hitting $9.62-1/2, the contract’s lowest point since Aug. 21 (all figures US$). The contract was down 5.1 per cent in the week.

CBOT July corn rose 1-1/2 cents to $3.77-3/4 a bushel, bouncing from an earlier four-month low of $3.73-1/2. The contract shed 3.5 per cent in the week, its second straight weekly drop.

Both have slipped below key moving averages.

Investors are turning their attention toward next Tuesday’s monthly crop forecasts from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

CBOT July wheat fell 6-3/4 cents to $5.20 a bushel after three days of gains that were fueled by concerns about crops in several major exporting countries. For the week, the contract was down 0.6 per cent.

Dry weather in parts of Russia, Australia and the European Union have added to worries about drought-reduced yields in the U.S. winter wheat harvest.

Chicago wheat futures are forecast to remain over $5 a bushel in the second half of 2018, reflecting weather-reduced harvests in several countries, Commerzbank said on Thursday.

Reporting for Reuters by Karl Plume; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris, Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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