* Soybeans drop below $14, fund selling noted
* Wheat firms after hitting fresh low
* Corn, soybeans pressured by U.S. crop conditions (Updates with closing prices)
By Mark Weinraub
CHICAGO, June 17 (Reuters) – U.S. soybean futures fell 1.7 percent at the Chicago Board of Trade on Tuesday, dropping below $14 a bushel for the first time since March 24, on the easing of pressure on the U.S. balance sheet, traders said.
Corn also weakened, hitting a 4-1/2-month low, while wheat firmed on moderate bargain buying after touching its lowest since Feb. 10.
Expectations of a large U.S. harvest of both corn and soybeans also weighed on prices after the U.S. Agriculture Department’s weekly conditions report on Monday afternoon showed that both crops were thriving across the Midwest during their early stages of development.
Soybean futures posted the biggest drop, with investment funds selling on reports of weakness in the cash market that indicated that elevators and processors will have enough supplies to last them until harvest.
“We have got liquidation pressure,” said Bill Gentry, a broker at Risk Management Commodities. “What we hear on the commercial side of the equation is that the imports seem to be satisfying the needs for the crushers and there is no sense of urgency right this minute.”
CBOT July soybeans settled down 23-1/2 cents at $13.98-1/4 a bushel. Prices hit a low of $13.95-3/4.
Soymeal futures also weakened, hitting a three-month low due to a glut of supplies. China’s decision to halt imports of U.S. distillers dried grains boosted the amount of feed available to domestic livestock and poultry producers, prompting some to trim the amount of soymeal in their rations in favor of the DDGs.
CBOT July corn was 2-1/4 cents lower at $4.38-3/4 a bushel and CBOT July wheat was up 3/4 cent at $5.81-3/4 a bushel after dipping to $5.76-3/4.
“Recent lows are under fire on the charts once again,” Matt Zeller, director of market information at INTL FCStone, said in a note to clients.
The U.S. corn crop was rated 76 percent good to excellent as of June 15, the best mid-June rating for the crop since a 77 percent reading in 1994, according to USDA’s weekly crop conditions and progress report.
Soybean ratings weakened by 1 percentage point, dropping below analysts’ expectations, to 73 percent good to excellent. That was still the best mid-June rating for soybeans on record. RIC
Close 1Cc1 CORN JUL4
441 1Sc1 SOYBEANS JUL4
-23.5 1421.75 1SMc1 SOY MEAL JUL4
462.4 1BOc1 SOYBEAN OIL JUL4
39.5 1Wc1 WHEAT SRW JUL4
581 1RRc1 ROUGH RICE JUL4
14.665 BL2c1 M.WHEAT EUR NOV4
187.75 CLc1 LIGHT CRUDE JUL4
106.9 .DJI DJ INDU AVERAGE 16806.83
25.82 16781.01 XAU= GOLD
-0.89 1271.29 .BADI BALTIC EXCH DRY
880 .DXY US DOLLAR INDEX
80.471 In U.S. cents, benchmark contracts, except EU wheat (euros) and soymeal (dollars). CBOT wheat, corn and soybeans per bushel, rice per hundredweight, soymeal per ton and soyoil per lb. (Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Lisa Shumaker)