U.S. grains: Weather woes support wheat

(Michael Thompson photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures rose to a three-week high on Monday, their eighth day of gains over nine sessions, supported by a round of short covering, traders said.

Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat futures hit their highest since Feb. 4 on concerns that dry weather in the U.S. Plains could damage crops that recently emerged from dormancy.

Soybeans were steady to firm, with the most actively traded May contract ending the day unchanged, ending an eight-session streak of positive changes. Traders said the winning streak, the longest in four years, petered out in the absence of fresh fundamental news.

CBOT May corn settled up 3-3/4 cents at $3.68-3/4 a bushel (all figures US$). Gains were kept in check as investors were unlikely to make big bullish bets ahead of a critical U.S. planting report at the end of the month.

“This is just short-covering on a Monday,” said Chris Robinson, senior trader and analyst at Top Third Ag Marketing. “We will see if there are any legs to this market.”

Commodity Futures Trading Commission data released on Friday showed that large speculators boosted their net short position in corn to a fresh record last week.

CBOT May soft red winter wheat rose three cents, to $4.78-3/4 a bushel, led higher by K.C. hard red winter wheat contracts that track the crop grown in the Plains.

Worries about crop health in that key growing region pushed K.C. May hard red winter wheat futures up six cents, to $4.89 a bushel. The most active hard red winter wheat contract hit its highest since Dec. 18.

CBOT May soybeans were flat at $8.95-3/4 a bushel. Weakness in crude oil prices helped anchor soybean futures.

Soybeans had been bolstered recently by gains in Brazil’s currency, the real, which make Brazilian soybeans more expensive on world markets and could boost U.S. sales because the U.S. competes with Brazil for exports.

But the real slipped on Monday, possibly lessening the export handicap, while the latest estimates from Brazil underlined a giant soybean crop is arriving on world markets.

Mark Weinraub 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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