U.S. grains: Wheat hits 2-1/2 month high on cold spell

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Board of Trade wheat rose for a fourth consecutive session on Thursday, reaching a 2-1/2-month high on short-covering and worries about a cold spell in the U.S.

Corn neared a four-month high and soybeans firmed, recouping some of the previous session’s losses.

At the CBOT, December wheat settled up 11 cents at $5.53-3/4 a bushel after reaching $5.59, the highest spot price since Aug. 29 (all figures US$).

Temperatures fell to -10 to -12 F (-23 to -24 C) early Thursday in western Nebraska and northeast Colorado, cold enough to kill plants in a few scattered areas that lacked snow cover.

The cold was not as severe in the U.S. Midwest but posed a bigger problem because wheat seedings and emergence there lag the normal pace.

“There may be an acreage reduction issue,” said Don Keeney, an agricultural meteorologist with MDA Weather Systems.

Cold weather has also stressed crops in the Black Sea region. Nearly a third of Ukraine’s winter grain crops could be damaged by frosts, the state weather forecaster said.

Commodity funds hold a sizable net short position in CBOT wheat, leaving the market vulnerable to short-covering.

December corn ended up 8-1/2 cents at $3.86-1/4 a bushel, bolstered by chart-based buying and sluggish farmer sales despite a record-large harvest.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said ethanol production, mostly from corn, averaged 946,000 barrels per day (bpd) in the week ended Nov. 7, up 17,000 bpd from the previous week.

Soybeans rose, with January up 5-3/4 cents at $10.53-1/2 a bushel. But soymeal fell on profit-taking, one day after the spot contract set a two-month high.

Soymeal has driven soybeans higher in recent days as heavy export commitments and a slow pace of sales by U.S. farmers left processors scrambling for supplies.

Traders were awaiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly export sales report on Friday to see whether the government might report net cancellations of soymeal for a second straight week.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters correspondent covering crop commodity markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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