U.S. grains: Prices slide on China worries, harvest progress

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Reuters — U.S. grain and soybean futures slid Monday, pressured by a broad sell-off in commodity and equity markets and progress by U.S. farmers in harvesting crops.

Soybeans tumbled more than one per cent, while Chicago wheat slipped off its earlier one-month high. Corn also declined.

“This will be one of the biggest weeks in the U.S. corn and soybean harvest, and I think that’s where some of the pressure is coming from,” said Mike Krueger, president of the Money Farm grain advisory near Fargo, N.D.

Analysts expect that the U.S. corn harvest was 21 per cent complete as of Sept. 27, and the soybean harvest 18 per cent done, near their five-year averages.

Renewed concerns about the stability of China and other big emerging economies swept through global markets.

“I think people are looking around and saying, ‘There’s not much reason to own anything,'” Krueger said.

Chicago Board of Trade December wheat fell 0.3 per cent or 2-1/4 cents to $5.05-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$). Wheat had risen some two per cent on Friday.

Wheat’s decline comes as Canada is expected to raise its domestic crop estimate on Friday. Wheat futures had climbed earlier on Monday on concerns about poor weather in the U.S., Australia and Black Sea region.

November soybeans dropped 1.3 per cent or 12-1/2 cents to $8.76-3/4 a bushel, as some investors booked profits after last week’s gains.

Dealers on the cash market reported steady deliveries of newly harvested soybeans to processors and elevators.

“Soybeans are still underpinned by the strong export demand especially from China, as was illustrated by the big U.S. sales to China reported on Friday,” said Frank Rijkers, agrifood economist at ABN AMRO Bank. “If this strong demand continues from China I would expect a firm trend in soybean prices.”

December corn dipped 0.5 per cent or 2-1/4 cents to $3.86-3/4 a bushel.

Traders awaited the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s quarterly stocks and small grains reports expected on Wednesday.

Rod Nickel is a Reuters correspondent covering the agriculture and mining sectors from Winnipeg. Additional reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen and Mark Weinraub in Chicago, Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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