U.S. grains: Corn, soy gain on export demand

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and soybean futures firmed on Friday, supported by strong export demand, while wheat weakened slightly as traders evened up positions ahead of a key U.S. government report on crop production and supplies, traders said.

Corn posted the biggest gain, rallying 1.5 percent. A round of pre-report short covering following three straight days of declines added support.

“Guys are getting lined up for that report,” said Chris Robinson, senior trader at Top Third Ag Marketing. “There was not a big trading range.”

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture will publish its world grain supply and demand forecasts, quarterly U.S. grain stocks estimates and a first estimate of the 2015 U.S. wheat area.

Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat dipped to a fresh six-week low during the overnight session, with U.S. offerings seen too expensive to attract export business amid ample global supplies.

CBOT March wheat settled 3-1/4 cents lower at $5.63-3/4 a bushel. Prices fell 3.2 per cent this week, their third straight week of declines.

CBOT March corn was six cents higher at $4.00-1/4 a bushel and posted a weekly gain of 1.1 percent. Front-month corn has risen in six of the past seven weeks.

USDA said private exporters reported the sale of 136,000 tonnes of corn to South Korea, as well as 116,000 tonnes of sorghum to unknown destinations.

Traders noted some bargain buying in corn after the March contract dipped below its 50-day moving average during the overnight session. The contract has not closed below that key technical level since October.

CBOT soybeans for March delivery were four cents higher at $10.52-1/4 a bushel. The front-month contract rose 4.9 per cent this week, its biggest gain since late October.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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