U.S. grains: Soy, corn sag on improving weather outlooks

(Photo courtesy Water Management Research Unit, ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean and corn futures fell on Thursday as funds liquidated long positions on improving U.S. weather forecasts and broad weakness in commodity and equities markets, analysts said.

Wheat followed the lower trend, pressured by the expanding U.S. winter wheat harvest and plentiful world stockpiles.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, July soybeans settled down 21-1/2 cents at $11.34-1/2 per bushel. July corn ended down 3-3/4 cents at $4.25-1/4 a bushel and July wheat was off five cents at $4.72-1/2 a bushel.

July soybeans hit a near two-week low while July corn touched its lowest since June 10 as concerns eased about pockets of dryness in the Midwest crop belt.

“The market is shedding a bit of that weather premium that we added late last week and early this week,” said Ted Seifried, chief market strategist for Zaner Ag Hedge.

“We could still hold on to a bit of the heat, but the vast majority of the growing area is looking at normal to above-normal temperatures, and with that, it signals a return to more normal weather,” Seifried said.

Even after a warm week in the Corn Belt, strong U.S. crop ratings and subsoil moisture reserves have mitigated concerns about dryness. Also, it is early in the growing season.

“It’s very difficult to stress crops during the vegetative stage,” said Rich Feltes, vice president for research with R.J. O’Brien.

Robust weekly export sales data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture failed to lift values. USDA said export sales of combined old- and new-crop corn totalled more than one million tonnes for the sixth straight week, while soybean sales surpassed trade expectations.

“The fact we are unable to hold here today despite another week of really stellar export sales in both corn and soybeans, that confirms we are trading weather at the moment. And the weather is looking less threatening,” Feltes said.

Declines in other commodities including crude oil added to bearish sentiment. The 19-market Thomson Reuters CoreCommodity CRB Index dropped nearly 1.5 per cent, its biggest daily decline in a month, amid fears of global economic turmoil if Britain exits the European Union.

Wheat turned higher at times on bargain-buying after the July contract dipped to a two-week low at $4.71 a bushel. But the market faced seasonal pressure from the expanding U.S. winter wheat harvest and anecdotal reports of strong yields in the southern Plains.

“Wheat is being undermined by indications of good harvest progress and large global inventories,” ABN AMRO Bank agrifood economist Frank Rijkers said.

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

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