* Wheat becoming more competitive with corn in feed rations
* Corn and soybeans firm, led by new-crop contracts
* Trade eyes forecasts for hot, drier weather in US Midwest
* Little reaction in grains to Fed policy statement
(Updates with closing prices)
By Julie Ingwersen
CHICAGO, June 19 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures climbed
nearly 3 percent on Wednesday, their biggest daily rise since
April, on buying and expectations of domestic demand for wheat
as livestock feed, traders said.
Corn and soybeans also advanced, led by new-crop contracts
as forecasts for hotter, drier weather later this month in the
U.S. Midwest raised concerns about potential crop stress.
At the Chicago Board of Trade, July wheat settled up
19.5 cents, or 2.8 percent, at $7.07 per bushel.
July corn ended up 9 cents at $6.82-1/4 a bushel, with
new-crop December up 20 cents at $5.70-1/2.
July soybeans rose 12-1/4 cents at $15.23 a bushel and
new-crop November ended up 21 cents at $13.10-3/4.
Wheat gained against corn as inter-market spreads corrected.
Corn had risen against wheat in recent days, making wheat more
attractive as a feed ingredient.
"When you've stretched corn against wheat as far as you
have, you have also encouraged additional domestic feed use in
the wheat market. So we probably have some renewed interest from
the feed sector," said Terry Linn, analyst with the Linn Group,
a Chicago brokerage.
Commodity funds hold a sizable net short position in CBOT
wheat futures, leaving the market open to bouts of
short-covering that can accelerate market moves.
Also bullish, China made a rare purchase of about 200,000
tonnes of wheat from France, European traders said. The last
time China made a significant purchase of French wheat was in
the 2004/2005 season, when it bought 667,358 tonnes, data from
French farm office FranceAgriMer showed.
Some analysts said the U.S. winter wheat harvest might be
smaller than expected, following drought and spring freeze
damage in the U.S. Plains and excessive rain in the Midwest.
Farmers have been harvesting wheat in Texas and Oklahoma and
while early yield reports were not as bad as expected, grain
merchants have expressed concern that the remaining crop might
"I think the trade is starting to find more disappointing
yields that match up with the declining crop conditions. They
are having to put premium back in the market," said Mike Zuzolo,
president of Global Commodity Analytics in Lafayette, Indiana.
CORN UP ON WEATHER JITTERS
Nearby corn futures rose for a fourth straight session,
supported by firm cash markets, while back months advanced as
forecasts for hot weather in the U.S. Midwest evoked memories of
last year's historic drought.
New-crop December corn hit a two-week high at $5.71,
surging above its 100-day moving average of $5.51.
"There is discussion of a high-pressure ridge for the last
week of June and into July that is gaining momentum," Joe Davis,
a vice president with Futures International, wrote in a note to
clients. "The warm and dry weather may help crops in the
short-term, but traders will keep a close eye on this as it may
develop into a prolonged ridge," it said.
Short-covering and weather worries overshadowed a policy
statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve, issued 15 minutes
before the CBOT close. The U.S. dollar rose and equities fell
after the Fed said it would maintain the pace of its bond buying
and gave no explicit indication it was close to slowing the
The market also eyed weekly ethanol numbers released by the
U.S. Energy Information Administration. The agency reported that
U.S. ethanol output fell by 11,000 barrels per day in the latest
week, to 873,000 bpd, while ethanol stocks rose to 16.45 million
barrels, up 458,000.
Ethanol margins are still positive, traders said, a factor
that should support demand for old-crop corn this summer.
SOYBEANS RISE ON ACREAGE ESTIMATE
New-crop soybeans extended gains after private analytics
firm Informa Economics estimated U.S. soybean plantings at
77.756 million acres (31.5 million hectares), down from its May
forecast of 78.286 million but above the U.S. Department of
Agriculture's figure of 77.1 million.
"The new-crop beans have gotten a boost from the Informa
numbers. The acreage increase was not as big as the trade was
expecting," Zuzolo said.
Informa cut its estimate for U.S. corn plantings to 95.262
million acres, below its May estimate of 96.827 million and down
2 million acres from USDA's figure of 97.3 million.
The USDA was scheduled to release updated planting figures
on June 28. Wet weather slowed U.S. corn planting this spring,
and analysts suspect farmers switched some of their intended
corn acres to soybeans, which can be planted later.
As of Sunday, U.S. farmers still had 15 percent of their
soybean acres left to plant, the USDA said this week.
Earlier, Lanworth, a brand of Thomson Reuters, lowered its
U.S. 2013 soybean production estimate to 3.35 billion bushels,
from 3.4 billion previously, and cut its yield forecast to 43.3
bushels per acre from 43.8.
Prices at 2:52 p.m. CDT (1952 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD
CHG CHG CHG
CBOT corn 682.25 9.00 1.3% -2.3%
CBOT soy 1523.00 12.25 0.8% 7.3%
CBOT meal 453.60 1.80 0.4% 7.8%
CBOT soyoil 49.35 0.54 1.1% 0.4%
CBOT wheat 707.00 19.50 2.8% -9.1%
CBOT rice 1628.00 -0.50 0.0% 9.6%
EU wheat 199.00 2.25 1.1% -20.5%
US crude 98.07 -0.37 -0.4% 6.8%
Dow Jones 15,128 -191 -1.2% 15.4%
Gold 1352.09 -15.70 -1.1% -19.2%
Euro/dollar 1.3275 -0.0118 -0.9% 0.6%
Dollar Index 81.4100 0.8120 1.0% 2.1%
Baltic Freight 995 33 3.4% 42.3%
(Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Colin
Packham in Sydney; editing by Keiron Henderson, Marguerita Choy
and Sofina Mirza-Reid)