U.S. grains: Corn, soybeans end higher ahead of hot spell

Soybeans in Ontario, June 2016. (Ralph Pearce photo)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and soybean futures firmed on Friday as forecasts for scorching temperatures in the Midwest crop belt through early next week prompted funds to cover short positions, analysts said.

Chicago Board of Trade winter wheat futures fell on profit-taking but still posted a weekly advance of 3.8 per cent, triggered by worries about the U.S. spring wheat crop.

At the CBOT, July corn settled up two cents at $3.87-3/4 per bushel (all figures US$). July soybeans ended up 3-1/2 cents at $9.41-1/2 a bushel and July wheat fell 3-1/2 cents at $4.45-3/4 a bushel.

Weather in the U.S. crop belt held the spotlight after monthly supply/demand reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to stir the market.

“From here on out, it’s all weather-related; we’re looking at a hot and dry weekend and very windy conditions that will dry out soils even further,” said Brian Hoops of Midwest Marketing Solutions.

Meteorologists predicted highs above 90 F (32 C) across much of the Midwest Sunday through Tuesday. The corn crop’s key pollination phase is not until July, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop condition ratings are below year-ago levels.

“If we come in Monday and there is still no rain for the west after five days of 95 F, we are going to be talking about downgrading crop conditions,” ED+F Man Capital analyst Charlie Sernatinger said in a note to clients.

Commodity funds hold a net short position in corn, soybeans and wheat futures, leaving the market vulnerable to short-covering rallies.

CBOT wheat fell on profit-taking, but MGEX spring wheat futures climbed on concerns about stressful weather in the northern Plains. July spring wheat futures reached $6.17-3/4 a bushel this week, the highest spot price on a continuous chart since July 2015.

Prospects for low protein in the U.S. harvest of hard red winter wheat have magnified the importance of spring wheat, a high-protein variety prized by millers for its quality.

“The concern about wheat quality in the U.S. continues to keep higher protein Minneapolis spring wheat at considerably wider spreads than normal,” said Graydon Chong, senior commodity analyst with Rabobank.

For the week, MGEX July spring wheat and CBOT July corn each rose about four per cent. CBOT July soybeans rose 2.2 per cent, halting a four-week skid.

After the CBOT close, Egypt’s main state wheat buyer set a tender to buy an unspecified amount of wheat from global suppliers for shipment from July 10-20. Results were expected on Saturday.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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