U.S. grains: Wheat, corn hit three-month lows

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures fell 1.6 per cent, their fourth straight losing session, on Tuesday on forecasts for rain across the U.S. Midwest that should spur growth of the recently seeded crop, traders said.

Expectations for a bumper harvest of corn already were high following timely planting and a U.S. government report that showed early development was better than expected, adding to the bearish sentiment hanging over the market.

The good growing weather also pressured soybeans, which dropped 1.3 per cent.

“The bears continue to have the grain markets firmly in their grip as excellent weather is expected again for at least the next 10 days across most growing areas,” said Sterling Smith, futures specialist at Citigroup in Chicago. “It is very early in the growing season and there is still plenty of time for a weather malfunction, but this crop is off to a very good start.”

Wheat prices sagged for the 10th session in a row, hitting a three-month low, on pressure from the drop in corn prices and plentiful global supplies.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Monday afternoon that good-to-excellent ratings for corn were 76 per cent, beating market expectations by 6 percentage points. The weekly report also showed that the pace of soybean planting surged ahead of the normal pace as northern farmers took advantage of near perfect conditions to make up for their delayed start.

Chicago Board of Trade corn for July delivery settled down 7-1/4 cents at $4.58-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). Prices bottomed out at $4.56, the lowest for the front-month contract since Feb. 28.

“Funds started liquidating last week,” said Karl Setzer, market analyst with MaxYield Cooperative. We are just seeing a continuation of that. The downside has quickly become the path of least resistance and that is where we are seeing the market head.”

CBOT July soybeans were 19-1/4 cents lower at $14.81-1/4 a bushel. Traders noted some unwinding of bull spreads, with the closely watched July-November spread narrowing by 11-1/4 cents.

CBOT July wheat was 8-1/4 cents lower at $6.12-1/2 a bushel. The session low of $6.11 was the lowest for the front-month contract since hitting $6.10 on March 3.

CBOT wheat has fallen 9.2 per cent during the 10-session losing streak, which is the market’s longest string of declines in 20 years.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets for Reuters from Chicago.

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