U.S. grains: Wheat falls on dollar pressure

(Canada Beef Inc. photo)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures firmed on Friday on support from bigger-than-expected U.S. export sales, traders said.

“The exports are pretty important,” said Bill Gentry, broker at Risk Management Commodities in Lafayette, Indiana. “(They show) the corn has got some value at these and lower levels.”

Soybeans dropped near three-month lows, capping a week that saw prices fall 1.9 per cent as an expected bin-busting harvest from South American comes on line. Wheat also closed lower, crumbling under pressure from a strong U.S. dollar.

Chicago Board of Trade corn for March delivery settled up three cents at $3.86-3/4 a bushel (all figures US$). CBOT March wheat was 3-1/4 cents lower at $5.30 a bushel.

Corn ended the week down 0.1 per cent. Wheat slipped 0.7 per cent, its fifth straight weekly loss.

“The dollar making new 11-1/2 year highs certainly didn’t help the wheat market,” said Ed Duggan, director of operations at Top Third Ag Marketing. “That is just making our goods more expensive on the open market.”

The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Friday morning that weekly export sales of corn were a robust 2.19 million tonnes, topping analysts’ forecasts that ranged from 800,000 to one million tonnes. Wheat export sales totaled 564,400 tonnes, which also beat trade expectations.

CBOT March soybeans were down four cents at $9.72-3/4 a bushel.

The strength in the dollar cast a bearish tone across U.S. commodities. The euro fell against the greenback following the European Central Bank’s announcement on Thursday that it would pump a trillion euros into the euro zone economy to revive sagging growth and ward off deflation.

“Currency markets continue to garner most of the excitement this week, as the dollar has definitely had a negative effect on the grains,” Matt Zeller, director of market information at INTL FCStone said in a note to clients.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Nigel Hunt in London.

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