U.S. grains: Strong exports support corn, soybeans

(Bob Nichols photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures rose to their highest in nearly three weeks on Monday, supported by technical buying and signs of stronger-than-expected export demand, traders said.

Overseas interest for U.S. supplies also supported corn futures, which rose to their highest since Feb. 5, while wheat weakened due to a firm dollar and plentiful global supplies.

Soybeans hit session highs after the U.S. Agriculture Department said weekly export inspections of soy totalled 1.531 million tonnes in the latest week, above the high end of trade forecasts that ranged from 1.1 million to 1.4 million.

Slow farmer sales of newly harvested supplies in South America extended the window for U.S. supplies on the export market.

Chicago Board of Trade March soybean futures settled up 2-3/4 cents at $8.81 a bushel (all figures US$). Prices hit their highest since Feb. 2 during the session.

Technical support was noted at the contract’s 100-day moving average shortly after the start of the U.S. trading day.

CBOT March corn futures ended up two cents at $3.67-1/2 a bushel.

USDA said corn export inspections came in at a higher-than-expected 900,323 tonnes, up from 691,641 tonnes a week earlier. Separately, USDA said private exporters sold 100,000 tonnes of U.S. corn to Colombia in a flash sale.

“We had good exports for both corn and soybeans,” said Greg Grow, director of agribusiness at Archer Financial Services.

CBOT March soft red winter wheat closed 3-1/4 cents lower at $4.58-1/2 a bushel.

Traders said that forecasts for rain in the U.S. Plains, which would benefit the hard red winter wheat crop as it emerges from dormancy, added pressure.

The dollar rose to a three-week high on Monday, bolstered by gains in oil and stocks as well as losses in sterling and the euro amid worries about Britain’s possible exit from the European Union.

The gains make dollar-denominated commodities such as wheat, which already was struggling to gain traction in a crowded marketplace, more expensive to overseas buyers.

“This is backed up by news that Egypt, the largest wheat importer, bought 240,000 tons of wheat last week, only 60,000 tons of this total being from France and 180,000 tons from Russia,” Commerzbank said in a note to clients.

Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Nigel Hunt in London.

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