U.S. corn jumps two per cent on soaring cash markets

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) corn futures leaped over two per cent on Monday, posting the biggest one-day advance in nearly a month on soaring cash corn markets and tight stocks of corn.

“July (old-crop) is definitely benefiting from the firm cash basis and tight near-term supplies. The western Corn Belt basis is very strong,” said Sterling Smith, market specialist for Citigroup.

New-crop December corn gained as well, but its advance was limited by nearly ideal crop growing weather in the U.S. Midwest that could nurse the late-planted crop to record production levels.

“New-crop contracts are finding pressure from the absolutely beautiful crop weather,” Smith said.

Soybean futures eased as a turn to nearly ideal crop-growing weather suggested 2013 crop production will rebound after last season’s drought-reduced harvest.

“A lot of this is the weather. It’s turning warm and dry now which is just what the crop needs,” said Anne Frick, oilseeds analyst for Jefferies Bache.

Wheat turned up on bargain buying after slipping earlier to a 2-1/2 month low on seasonal harvest pressure as U.S. farmers gained traction cutting the 2013 U.S. winter wheat crop.

CBOT corn for July delivery was up 13-1/2 cents per bushel at $6.68-1/2, while new-crop December was up 5-1/2 at $5.38-1/2 (all figures US$).

CBOT July soybeans were down four cents per bushel at $15.12-1/2 and July wheat was down 1/4 cent at $6.80-1/2.

Cash basis bids for bargeloads of corn shipped to the U.S. Gulf Coast surged to their highest-ever springtime level on Friday as exporters scrambled for near-term supplies that remained extremely tight.

“There are a bunch of paper shorts in the market and exporters still have a program to fill. Nobody’s selling anything right now and the pipeline is just so thin,” said an corn export trader.

Gains were slowed in the corn market and pressure was applied to new-crop December corn and new-crop November soybean futures contracts by the near-ideal crop growing conditions, after record rains early this spring led to the slowest planting pace in 17 years.

“We’re getting near the end of plantings now, so the plantings lag is not so important,” Frick said.

Good growing weather is expected through the end of June as farmers wind down seedings, an agricultural meteorologist said on Monday.

“We’re shifting focus to good growing weather, they should wrap up plantings this week,” said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

Dee said there would not be a lot of rainfall in the Midwest this week, only “isolated showers,” and there is no heat expected for an extended period of time. Temperatures will rise to the upper 70s to low 80s F and another round of showers will begin this coming weekend, he said.

“There will be between 0.5 inch (and) one inch next week so there is no pronounced dryness expected. Overall the forecast looks good for crops,” Dee said.

The soy market was pressured by speculation that China’s soy imports may be overestimated.

“There is some concern about China’s economy and the surplus of soybeans there because of their big imports, but I think most are focusing on U.S. weather today,” Frick said.

On the Paris futures market, benchmark November milling wheat was down 0.75 euro a tonne. A stronger euro, which makes euro-priced products more expensive on export markets, weighed on prices.

The harvest of winter wheat is under way in the U.S., the world’s biggest exporter, and early reports from drought-hit Texas and Oklahoma are not as bad as feared, agronomists and others said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture raised its estimate of the 2013 U.S. winter wheat harvest last week to 1.509 billion bushels, from 1.486 billion in May.

— Sam Nelson is a Reuters correspondent covering CBOT grain and oilseed markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Karl Plume in Chicago, Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Ivana Sekularac in Amsterdam.

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