U.S. grains: Wheat futures jump

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures rallied on Friday, with the benchmark Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat contract surging 4.1 per cent on forecasts for dry conditions that could further stress an already damaged crop.

The weather outlook also threatened to slow planting progress in the U.S. Midwest, which was supportive of corn and soybean futures.

“Heavy rainfall across portions of the northern U.S. Plains and the western Midwest will further delay spring plantings, while unfavourable dry anomalies persist in the southern U.S. Plains,” Thomson Reuters Weather Research said in a note.

The call for rains in northern areas threatened to delay spring wheat seeding, supporting MGEX spring wheat futures.

Corn futures were up 1.6 per cent following China’s move to drop its anti-dumping probe into imports of U.S. sorghum on Friday, beating a hasty retreat from a dispute that wreaked chaos across the global grain market and raised concerns about rising costs and financial damage at home.

The decision also boosted soybean futures amid hopes it signaled that a move to settle all ongoing trade disputes between Beijing and Washington would follow soon.

“The whole complex is being supported by the idea that China is showing some flexibility and talk of a potential grand bargain,” said Jim Gerlach, president of Indiana-based A/C Trading.

Chinese Vice-Premier Liu He is in Washington for talks aimed at resolving trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies.

CBOT July soft red winter wheat futures settled up 20-3/4 cents at $5.18-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). CBOT wheat has risen for four days in a row and notched a weekly gain of 3.9 per cent.

Wheat received additional support from an Iraqi purchase of 100,000 tonnes of hard wheat, including 50,000 tonnes of U.S. supplies.

CBOT July corn futures were 7-1/4 cents higher at $4.02-1/2 a bushel.

CBOT July soybean futures were up 3-1/2 cents at $9.98-1/2 a bushel.

Strength in soybeans was tempered by a U.S. Department of Agriculture announcement that unknown buyers canceled deals to buy 949,000 tonnes of soybeans.

Soybean futures fell 0.5 per cent this week, their third straight weekly loss. Corn futures were up 1.3 per cent this week.

Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Nigel Hunt in London.

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