U.S. grains: Wheat drops on forecasts for Plains rain; corn firm

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures fell on Friday, clinching their biggest weekly loss since January, on forecasts for some much needed rain in the U.S. Plains, traders said.

Corn prices firmed on expectations that cold weather and low soil temperatures across key growing areas of the U.S. Midwest will delay planting in coming weeks.

Soybeans were mixed, with old-crop months steady to weak and new-crop months firm as traders unwound bull spreads amid easing concerns about the tight U.S. supply situation.

Wheat’s losses stemmed from ideas that improving conditions for growth in the U.S. Plains will ensure that the world will remained well supplied with the grain.

“All of a sudden, there is not near as much concern on the wheat crop,” said Karl Setzer, market analyst for MaxYield Cooperative.

Forecasts called for slight rains during the weekend and a bigger system bringing much-needed moisture at the end of next week, said Don Keeney, meteorologist with MDA Weather Services. The region’s wheat crop is emerging from dormancy and will need increasing amounts of moisture as it develops over the next few months.

The benchmark Chicago Board of Trade May soft red winter wheat contract ended down 6-1/4 cents at $6.69-3/4 a bushel (all figures US$). May KC hard red winter wheat futures, which track the crop grown in the drought-stricken Plains, were off 10-1/4 cents at $7.33-3/4 a bushel.

CBOT wheat shed 3.7 per cent this week, its biggest weekly loss since the week ended Jan. 10. The May contract slipped through its 30-day moving average for the first time since Feb. 11 during Friday’s session.

CBOT May soybeans were down 1-1/2 cents at $14.73-3/4 a bushel. A wave of technical selling hitting the market after prices failed to break through the high end of its 20-day Bollinger range. The new-crop November contract gained five cents to $12.08-1/2 a bushel.

May soybeans were up 2.5 per cent this week, the third straight week of gains for the front-month contract. Front-month soybeans have risen for eight out of the last nine weeks due to concerns about tight old-crop supplies in the U.S.

CBOT May corn was up 1-3/4 cents at $5.01-3/4 a bushel. The contract rose 1.9 per cent this week, its third straight week of gains. Front-month corn has risen for 10 of the last 11 weeks on strong demand from the export and ethanol sector.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen.

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