U.S. grains: Wheat hits contract lows

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures eased to contract lows on Friday, capping a week of five straight days of declines that saw the market shed 4.6 per cent of its value.

Soybean futures also were weaker while corn edged higher on a mild short-covering bounce.

A forecast for bigger-than-expected wheat production in Canada issued earlier this week cast a bearish tone over the market that traders were still processing. It underlined the idea that U.S. exporters will continue to struggle to find business with overseas buyers, traders said.

“The world is amuck in wheat right now and regardless of how many acres we plant this year, our wheat is not competitive,” said Ed Duggan, senior risk management specialist at Top Third Ag Marketing in Chicago.

Strength in the dollar added to the bearish pressure on wheat.

Chicago Board of Trade March soft red winter wheat futures ended down 2-1/2 cents at $4.19 a bushel (all figures US$). The contract hit a low of $4.17-3/4 a bushel during the session.

K.C. hard red winter wheat futures also notched a contract low.

“There is no love in the wheat pit, as we made fresh contract lows with no indication whatsoever that the market wants to uptick,” Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures at ED+F Man Capital, said in a note to clients.

CBOT March corn was 1-1/4 cents higher at $3.52-3/4 a bushel. Corn futures fell 1.7 per cent this week.

CBOT January soybean futures settled 2-1/4 cents lower at $9.89-3/4 a bushel. Soybean futures dropped 0.4 per cent this week after rising in the previous four weeks.

Export demand for soybeans has picked up this week after a slow start to the marketing year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier on Friday said that private exporters reported the sale of 268,000 tonnes of soybeans for delivery to China during the 2017-18 marketing year. The government also disclosed another 129,000-tonne sale to unknown destinations for 2017-18 and a 66,000-tonne sale to unknown destinations for 2018-19.

Traders said concerns about a bumper crop in South America cutting into the U.S. share of the export market limited enthusiasm about the recent sales.

Consultancy AgRural on Friday raised its forecast for 2017-18 Brazil soybean production to 112.9 million tonnes from 110.2 million.

And forecasts for some much needed rain in Argentina in the coming weeks added pressure to soybeans on Friday.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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