U.S. grains: Corn, wheat edge lower in consolidation ahead of report

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. corn futures eased for the first time in three sessions on Tuesday while wheat prices also lost ground as investors took profits ahead of a major government crop report due next week.

Forecasts for more favourable weather in the U.S. also weighed on grain prices even as they remained near the multi-month highs notched in recent days. Soybean futures were narrowly higher on a technical bounce, traders said.

“Every so often, the market needs to take a break and consolidate,” said Bob Utterback, analyst at Utterback Marketing in New Richmond, Indiana.

The U.S. Agriculture Department will release its annual spring plantings and quarterly grain stocks reports on Monday — releases that typically spark wild gyrations in prices. Investors who have made bullish bets on the commodities for most of the year were reluctant to expand their positions ahead of the reports.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected USDA to boost estimates for soybean acres at the expense of corn.

“The market is just anticipating the March 31 report, and that’s what we’re waiting for,” said Chris Manns, analyst at the Traders Group in Chicago. “We’re going to see a lot of evening up.”

Chicago Board of Trade May corn finished 3-1/2 cents lower at $4.86-1/2 per bushel but was still near the highest level in about six months (all figures US$). CBOT May wheat shed 6-1/2 cents to $7.08-1/4 but was hovering near an 11-month high.

The declines came after a two per cent spike in corn futures and three per cent rise in wheat futures on Monday.

Soybeans for May delivery were 2-1/2 cents higher at $14.28 per bushel, gaining for the second day in a row.

Warmer weather was forecast in the U.S. Corn Belt while rains were expected on Wednesday in the parched winter wheat belt in the southern U.S. Plains, an agriculture meteorologist said.

Meanwhile, China has turned away more U.S. corn after detecting an unapproved genetically modified strain in shipments, with buyers waiting for sales from the country’s huge state reserves or shifting to cheap grain from Ukraine.

— Michael Hirtzer reports on ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Alexander Winning in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.



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