Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. soybean futures rose 1.3 per cent on Thursday as the U.S. Agriculture Department’s report of stronger-than-expected exports spurred a round of short-covering, traders said.
Corn futures were steady to weak, with the front-month contract settling unchanged while deferred contracts posted modest declines. Corn had fallen for six days in a row heading into Thursday’s session.
Wheat fell for the fifth time in six sessions, weighed down by technical sales and weak demand.
Soybeans notched their biggest percentage gain of the month.
“All things considered, we still have some demand,” said Bill Gentry, a broker at Risk Management Commodities in Chicago. “The lateness of harvest for South American beans is keeping our export window open.”
USDA said on Thursday morning that weekly export sales of soybeans totalled 601,000 tonnes (old-crop and new-crop combined). That topped the high end of trade expectations ranging from 300,000 to 600,000 tonnes and was up from a combined total of 22,100 tonnes a week ago.
Chicago Board of Trade March soybean futures rose 11-1/4 cents to $8.73-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$).
CBOT March corn was unchanged at $3.60-1/4 a bushel. The front-month contract has not closed in positive since Feb. 2. CBOT March soft red winter wheat dropped three cents to $4.58-1/4 a bushel.
USDA reported weekly corn export sales of 346,100 tonnes, well below forecasts for 800,000 to 1.1 million tonnes. The weak exports, coupled with the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s report of record ethanol stocks on Wednesday, highlighted the fundamental headwinds facing corn and kept most buyers on the sidelines.
Wheat also was facing poor demand from both the domestic and export sectors, and a lack of weather threats to the dormant crop in the Northern Hemisphere raised the prospects of the upcoming harvest adding to already abundant supplies.
— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris.