U.S. grains: Soybeans drop for third day

(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures fell for a third straight session on Wednesday as the end of a truckers’ strike in Brazil and easing concerns about a farmers’ protest in Argentina reduced fears of major South American export disruptions.

Wheat fell under the combined pressure of a stronger dollar, which makes U.S. grain more expensive on world markets, and an improving outlook for the U.S. winter wheat crop.

Corn slumped along with soybeans and wheat, but losses were lessened by firm cash market prices and supportive government weekly ethanol stocks data.

“The stronger dollar and the receding impact of the truck drivers’ strike in Brazil are the main factors weakening grain and soybean prices today,” said Frank Rijkers, agrifood economist at ABN AMRO Bank.

Brazilian police said only four highway roadblocks remained on Wednesday, down from 100 nationwide a week earlier.

The dollar hit its highest since September 2003 against a basket of currencies on Wednesday.

Brazil’s real fell to a more than 10-year low against the dollar, prompting heavy farmer selling of newly harvested soybeans, traders said.

Chicago Board of Trade May soybeans fell 18-1/4 cents, or 1.8 per cent, to a 2-1/2 week low of $9.94 a bushel (all figures US$). Commodity funds sold an estimated net 7,000 contracts on the day, trade sources said.

CBOT May corn was down 1-1/2 cents, or 0.4 per cent, at $3.89-1/2 a bushel.

Traders downplayed news that Argentine farmers will suspend grain sales for three days to protest against export quotas and other government policies.

“Three days isn’t a very long time to worry the market, especially when you have global supply forecasts as large as they are,” said Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration reported a drop in ethanol output last week to the lowest since October, but stocks of the corn-based biofuel also declined, a supportive factor for corn.

“The corn probably would have joined the beans and the wheat down one to two per cent if not for the ethanol numbers,” Zuzolo said.

CBOT May SRW wheat futures shed 10 cents, or two per cent, to $4.96 a bushel. May hard red winter wheat dropped eight cents, or 1.5 per cent, to $5.27-1/4 a bushel.

U.S. wheat has failed to win much business in several recent international tenders, with cheaper supplies from Europe cornering sales. The stronger dollar further dampened export hopes.

Karl Plume reports on grain markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Michael Hogan in Hamburg.

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