U.S. grains: Wheat down on ample supplies

(Stephen Ausmus photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures fell more than one per cent on Thursday, easing from a two-session rally as traders returned their focus to record-large global inventories and poor export demand for U.S. supplies, traders said.

Corn and soybean futures also declined.

At the CBOT, March wheat settled down 6-1/4 cents at $4.62-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). March corn ended down 1-3/4 cents at $3.65-1/2 a bushel and the March soybean contract fell 2-3/4 cents at $8.79-3/4 per bushel.

CBOT wheat posted the biggest decline on a percentage basis, retreating from Wednesday’s 1-1/2-week high.

“The last couple days we have seen what I think has been spec short covering. The impetus was stronger equity markets and energy markets. We don’t have that today, so we sag,” said Tom Fritz, partner with EFG Group in Chicago.

Underscoring ample world supplies, farm office FranceAgriMer raised its forecast for French soft wheat ending stocks for 2015-16 to six million tonnes, up from 5.8 million last month and the most in 17 years.

In a sign of further headwinds for U.S. wheat exports, consultancy Strategie Grains raised its forecast for European Union 2016-17 soft wheat exports to 30.6 million tonnes, up 1.7 million from its previous estimate.

“Low-priced EU and Black Sea wheat continues to pressure U.S. wheat and corn export prospects,” said Dan Cekander, president of DC Analysis.

CBOT corn and soybean futures drifted lower as mostly good weather in South America bolstered prospects for hefty corn and soybean crops from Brazil and Argentina.

“Across most of the major corn and soybean areas in Argentina, soil moisture is now quite favourable for crop development,” MDA Weather Services said in a daily note.

In another bearish bit of data, U.S. ethanol producers boosted inventories in the latest week to a record 23.22 million barrels, reflecting increased run rates, Energy Information Administration data showed. Corn is the primary feedstock for ethanol in the U.S.

Julie Ingwersen 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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