U.S. grains: Wheat edges lower on profit-taking

CBOT May 2019 wheat with Bollinger bands (20,2), a gauge of market volatility. (Barchart)

New York | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures inched lower on Tuesday as investors took profits after prices hit a one-month high on U.S. export optimism and adverse weather in the United States that threatened to delay sowing.

Soybean and corn futures fell on technical selling.

Chicago Board of Trade May wheat dropped 1/4 cent to close at $4.69-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). The contract pared gains after it reached $4.78 a bushel earlier in the session, the highest since Feb. 25.

May soybeans fell 5-3/4 cents at $9.00-3/4 a bushel. Prices dropped below 10- and 20-day moving averages during overnight trading.

May corn was down 2-1/2 cents at $3.77-1/4 a bushel, posting its first decline after four sessions of gains. Investors took profits after the contract hit its highest in a month on Monday.

Global demand for wheat helped limit losses.

Egypt’s state grains buyer said on Tuesday it bought 120,000 tonnes of U.S. soft red wheat in an international purchase tender. Elsewhere, the Ethiopian government has issued a new international tender to buy about 600,000 tonnes of milling wheat.

“There’s signs of uncovering some demand here and the U.S. hopes to capture some of it,” said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading in Indiana.

Snow covers much of North Dakota, the top U.S. wheat state, which could mean a delay in planting spring wheat if there is a sudden thaw.

Farmers from Missouri to South Dakota have seen their corn and soybean fields flooded as winter snow melts, a sign of what may be in store for North Dakota.

At the same time, a cold, wet spring could force farmers to plant more soybeans than initially expected.

Investors are hoping for direction from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s prospective plantings report, due to be released Friday.

Analysts expect the report to show that farmers plan to seed 86.169 million acres of soybeans, up from the government’s February forecast for 85 million acres.

Traders also await further details from U.S.-China trade talks. A U.S. trade delegations will visit China starting Thursday for the next round of negotiations.

“If the talks drag on, U.S. soy farmers may face increasing pressure to sell record stocks or plant alternatives instead if the Chinese market is not reopened to U.S. exports,” said Michael Magdovitz, senior agriculture commodities analyst at Rabobank.

— Stephanie Kelly reports on energy and grain markets for Reuters from New York; additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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