U.S. grains: Soybeans firm on U.S. weather worries; corn, wheat lower

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Chicago/Reuters – U.S. soybean futures rose on Tuesday, buoyed by worries about dry weather in parts of the U.S.

Midwest and reminders of strong export demand from China, traders said.

Corn futures fell, losing ground to soybeans on intermarket spreads, while wheat sagged on technical buying and sluggish export prospects.

As of 1:01 p.m. CDT (1800 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade November soybean futures were up 4-1/2 cents at $9.74-1/4 per bushel.

December corn was down 2-1/4 cents at $3.84-1/2 a bushel and September wheat was down 7-1/2 cents at $4.56 a bushel.

Soybeans firmed on weather worries, including dry patches in parts of the Midwest.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture late Monday rated 60 percent of the U.S. soybean crop in good-to-excellent condition, up from 59 percent a week earlier. However, ratings declined in Illinois and Iowa, the top two U.S. soy states.

The latest weekly U.S. Drought Monitor showed 36 percent of Iowa in moderate drought and 7 percent in severe drought, up from 1.7 percent a week earlier.

Traders have also begun to worry that cool temperatures expected in the Midwest this month could extend the growing season, leaving soybeans vulnerable to an early frost.

“That frost risk would trim the soybean yield more than it would hurt the corn. That’s worth a little bit of premium,” said Brian Hoops, analyst with Midwest Market Solutions.

The market drew additional support from Chinese customs data showing that China’s July soybean imports surged 30 percent to their highest level since 2010.

CBOT corn futures firmed in early moves but turned lower.

Most of the U.S. corn crop has completed pollination, its key phase for determining yields, so the crop was seen as less vulnerable than soy to frost damage.

“For corn, maturity isn’t going to be as much of an issue,” Hoops said. Also bearish, the European Union introduced a corn import tariff for the first time in nearly three years in view of low prices linked to swelling global supplies of the feed grain.

Wheat fell in what appeared to be technically driven trade, with a firmer dollar adding pressure.

The U.S. dollar index rose to a more than a one-week high after data showed U.S. job openings surging to a record high in June.

A strong dollar tends to make U.S. grains less competitive on the world market. “We are trying to find the price level that is going to stimulate (export) demand,” Hoops said.

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