U.S. grains: Wheat, corn, soybeans close week lower

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures plunged 3.3 per cent on Friday, their biggest decline in nearly two months, on more signs of poor export prospects for U.S. supplies, traders said.

Corn and soybean futures also fell, weighed down by a round of end-of-week profit-taking following solid gains on Thursday.

But wheat notched the biggest decline, capping a week that saw prices fall 4.3 per cent as overseas buyers shunned U.S. supplies as it was easy to find cheaper stocks from the ample global supply base.

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“Prices are too high,” said Mike Krueger, president of The Money Farm, a grain marketing advisory service at Fargo, N.D. “The U.S. is not in the mix. We are not competitive yet.”

The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Friday morning that weekly export sales of wheat were 305,400 tonnes, just above the low end of the range of analysts’ forecasts for 300,000 to 500,000 tonnes.

Additionally, Morocco’s grain agency said on Friday it had bought European Union wheat in its latest deal but received no offers in a tender to buy durum and soft wheat from the U.S.

Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat for March delivery fell 17-1/2 cents to settle at $5.10-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$).

The market shrugged off any concerns about a cold snap across key U.S. growing regions damaging the dormant crop.

“We are still the most expensive wheat,” said Craig VanDyke, analyst at Top Third Ag Marketing in Chicago. “Wheat has not been killed enough yet for us to see significant rallies.”

CBOT March soybeans settled down 8 cents at $9.99-1/4 a bushel. March corn futures were 4-1/2 cents lower at $3.85-1/4 a bushel.

For the week, soybean futures rose 0.9 per cent, their third straight week of gains, while corn futures fell 0.5 per cent.

USDA said Friday domestic soybean stockpiles will continue to grow in the 2015-16 crop, despite cuts to acreage this spring. It forecast cuts to U.S. corn supplies.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago, Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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