U.S. grains: Corn declines on profit-taking after six-week high

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Board of Trade corn futures fell on Wednesday as traders booked profits following a two-day surge, driven by U.S. harvest delays, that lifted the market to a six-week high, brokers said.

Soybeans declined along with corn on profit-taking and improving weather for fieldwork. Wheat followed the lower trend, reversing early gains tied to a setback in the U.S. dollar.

At the CBOT, December corn settled down 9-1/2 cents at $3.47-1/2 per bushel after climbing to $3.58-1/4, its highest level in six weeks (all figures US$).

November soybeans ended down 12-1/4 cents at $9.52-1/2 a bushel and December wheat settled down 3-1/4 cents at $5.06 a bushel.

Corn and soybeans were pressured by forecasts for clearing skies in the U.S. Midwest after a week of rain that stalled fieldwork, especially in southern areas. Producers are expected to pick up the harvest pace through the end of this month.

“The rains have moved off to the east of the Corn Belt. You now have 15 days of sunshine in front of you. The western belt will start harvesting corn heavily. They are still doing beans now,” said Roy Huckabay of the Linn Group, a Chicago brokerage.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said the U.S. soybean harvest was 40 per cent complete as of Sunday, well above market expectations for 31 per cent, but behind the five-year average of 53 per cent.

The corn harvest was farther behind, at 24 per cent, compared with the five-year average of 43 per cent.

Soybean futures turned down after a choppy session, trading higher at times on support from robust export demand and profitable cash crushing margins in the U.S. and China.

“The export demand is strong. We have got record sales on the books as we start the 2014-15 crop year,” said Brian Basting, an analyst with Advance Trading in Bloomington, Illinois.

CBOT December wheat rose to $5.16-1/4 a bushel, its highest level in a month, before retreating late in the session as corn sagged.

Losses were mitigated by a weaker dollar, which makes dollar-denominated grains more attractive to those holding other currencies. The greenback fell against a basket of currencies after weak U.S. economic data heightened concerns that the Federal Reserve would delay its first rate hike.

“That currency market has been a friend to the wheat market here. It’s making us more competitive,” said Mike Zuzolo of Global Commodity Analytics in Atchison, Kansas.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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