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U.S. grains: Wheat falls in thin trade

Strong weekly wheat export sales fail to lift prices

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures fell on Thursday on technical selling, hitting their lowest level since last week on a lack of supportive news and plentiful global inventories, analysts said.

Corn and soybeans also sagged.

Chicago Board of Trade May wheat settled down 6-1/2 cents at $4.23-1/4 per bushel (all figures US$). CBOT May corn fell four cents at $3.60-3/4 a bushel and May soybeans declined 2-3/4 cents at $9.41-1/2.

Wheat posted the biggest declines on a percentage basis.

“You have still got the problem of huge stocks around, not only domestically but worldwide. It’s the limiting factor,” said Joe Christopher, with the Crossroads Cooperative in Sidney, Nebraska.

Wheat futures fell despite larger-than-expected weekly U.S. export sales. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales of old-crop wheat in the week to March 30 at 568,400 tonnes, above a range of trade expectations.

But the dollar index firmed slightly, theoretically making U.S. grains less attractive on the world market.

“From a technical perspective, it (wheat) was trying to make a good trade, but failed. It’s a very thin trade and there is minimal news,” said Terry Linn, analyst with Linn + Associates.

Corn also fell to its lowest since Friday, despite strong weekly U.S. corn export sales, topping 1.1 million tonnes.

Some forecasts called for drier weather in the Midwest, where most farmers are waiting to start planting corn.

“It looks to me like there’s a planting window later next week… I would think that by later next week, some guys will be rolling,” said Dan Cekander of DC Analysis.

Ample global stocks kept a lid on the corn market. Despite an expected fall in wheat output, global cereal production in 2017 is forecast to be close to a record level reached in 2016, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

CBOT soybean futures drifted lower but stayed above multi-month lows set this week. Concern over rain disruption to Argentina’s harvest helped underpin the market.

However, the soybean market is anticipating record production in Brazil, which could dominate export trade in coming months and reduce U.S. export sales.

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

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