U.S. grains: Corn gains on firm cash market, rain-delayed planting

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures advanced for a second straight session on Wednesday, adding more than one per cent on firm cash markets and as cooler and wetter weather in the central U.S. stalled planting of the crop in the western corn belt.

Soybeans were mixed, with nearby prices pressured by spread trading activity and expectations of more U.S. imports of South American beans amid weak near-term demand from China.

Wheat was pressured early in the day on crop boosting rains in parts of the U.S. Plains winter wheat belt before turning higher on short-covering and technical buying.

“We’re looking at some planting delays over the next few days with the heavy moisture,” said Rich Nelson, chief strategist at Allendale Inc.

“But we are finding some resistance at higher prices as we move above this $5 (per bushel) level in corn,” he added (all figures US$).

Chicago Board of Trade May corn rose 7-1/4 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to $5.03-1/2 a bushel in a second straight day of gains after sinking to a three-week low on Monday.

A storm system was expected to bring up to an inch of rain to parts of the Midwest through Thursday, including major corn production areas in eastern Nebraska, Iowa and southern Minnesota, Commodity Weather Group said.

The storms will further delay planting activity that is already behind the average pace.

Cash basis bids rose at some Midwest processing locations, including a large plant in Decatur, Illinois, and one in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

Traders shrugged off data from the Energy Information Administration that showed ethanol stocks rose to their highest level since February despite a large drop in production.

Spot soybeans fell for a fourth straight session for the first time since November, further narrowing an inverse to new-crop prices that hit a seasonal high last week of more than $2.80 per bushel.

“Soybeans are still being weakened by the reports of imports into the United States, which may relieve tight U.S. supplies, and concern about low demand in China,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank.

Two Brazilian soybean shipments originally sold to China by Japan’s Marubeni Corp. have been switched to the U.S., the latest of several U.S. import shipments expected this season. This followed a report China may default on soybean import deals from the U.S. and South America because of poor domestic demand.

CBOT May soybeans dropped 11-1/4 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $14.68-1/2 a bushel while new-crop November added 12 cents, or one per cent, to $12.27-1/2. The May/November spread has narrowed by more than 40 cents over the past week.

CBOT May wheat added 3-1/2 cents, or 0.5 per cent, to $6.76-1/2 a bushel.

Commodity funds bought an estimated net 9,000 corn and 1,000 wheat contracts on the day and sold a net 3,000 soybean contracts, trade sources said.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and commodities for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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