U.S. grains: Corn, wheat firm after USDA report

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures fell one per cent on Monday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture raised its estimate of the record harvest in a monthly report and left its view of ending stocks unchanged, traders said.

Corn closed higher after USDA surprised traders by lowering its estimate of the U.S. corn yield, while wheat also firmed. [Related story]

At the CBOT, benchmark January soybeans settled down 11 cents at $10.25-3/4 a bushel, reversing early gains (all figures US$). December corn settled up 1-3/4 cents at $3.69-1/4 a bushel, and December wheat finished up 2-3/4 cents at $5.17-1/4 a bushel.

Soybeans fell after USDA raised its U.S. soybean yield estimate to 47.5 bushels per acre from 47.1 in October. The government left its forecast of 2014-15 ending stocks unchanged at 450 million bushels, despite consensus trade expectations for a reduction.

“We were all expecting a bullish report (on soybeans), and we didn’t have it,” said market analyst Karl Setzer of MaxYield Cooperative in West Bend, Iowa. “There was talk of the yield being cut, and it wasn’t.”

Soybeans also lost ground against corn on intermarket spreads after the report.

December corn closed above its 100-day moving average after USDA lowered its 2014 U.S. corn yield estimate to 173.4 bushels per acre, still a record high but down from 174.2 in October.

“The sticker shock is they dropped the corn yield number,” said Joe Vaclavik, president of Standard Grain in Chicago. “Nobody expected that.”

The government also trimmed its forecast of 2014-15 corn ending stocks to 2.008 billion bushels from 2.081 billion last month, but some analysts said the figure would remain burdensome.

“Big picture,” Vaclavik said, “there is nothing friendly about a two billion-bushel corn carry-out.”

CBOT wheat firmed after USDA cut its 2014-15 U.S. ending stocks forecast to 644 million bushels from 654 million in October, when most analysts expected a slight increase.

Of the three main U.S. wheat exchanges, Minneapolis Grain Exchange spring wheat futures posted the biggest gains after USDA lowered its estimate of 2014 U.S. spring wheat production and 2014-15 ending stocks.

Besides USDA reports, traders were monitoring a winter storm moving across the Dakotas and into the Great Lakes region that could bring significant snowfall.

“Today’s snowstorm will severely impact harvest in parts of the upper Midwest as the snow will be followed by unseasonably cold temperatures,” CHS Hedging said in a daily note.

In a weekly crop progress report released after the CBOT close, the USDA said the U.S. corn harvest was 80 per cent complete and soybeans were 90 per cent harvested, roughly in line with trade expectations.

Winter wheat planting was 93 percent complete, and USDA rated 60 per cent of the crop as good to excellent, up from 59 per cent the previous week.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters correspondent covering crop commodity markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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