U.S. grains: Wheat, corn extend rally on short-covering

(Michael Thompson photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and wheat futures rose for the third straight day on Thursday, with investors who had made bearish bets on the grains scrambling to cover short positions as the market rallied, traders said.

Soybeans also were firmer, but technical resistance and huge supplies kept the gains in check.

Robust demand from ethanol producers and a U.S. government report that showed weekly corn exports were greater than expected also contributed to strength in corn, which hit a five-week high.

“The exports today were on the positive side for corn,” said Greg Grow, director of agribusiness at Archer Financial Services. “We are still burning a lot of ethanol. Farmers are willing to move grain on rallies but not on breaks.”

Chicago Board of Trade March corn futures settled up 5-1/2 cents at $3.79-1/4 a bushel, while March wheat was 5-3/4 cents higher at $4.95-1/2 (all figures US$).

The front-month corn contract peaked at $3.79-1/4 a bushel, its highest since Nov. 5. Both wheat and corn have risen for five of the last six trading days.

The U.S. Agriculture Department early on Thursday reported weekly export sales of corn at 1.095 million tonnes, topping market forecasts ranging from 450,000 to 650,000 tonnes.

The wheat market has shrugged off USDA’s raised outlook for world ending stocks that exceeded trade estimates, but bearish supply fundamentals were nonetheless preventing prices from gaining much ground, analysts said.

“Wheat rallied from the get-go on short covering for the end of the calendar year, and without the benefit of any appreciable new fundamental input,” Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures at ED+F Man Capital, said in a note to clients.

CBOT January soybeans ended up 1-1/2 cents at $8.78-1/4 a bushel. Prices briefly broke through the 10-day moving average but failed to hold support above that key technical level.

Soybean export sales of 1.454 million bushels also came in above market forecasts.

Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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