U.S. grains: Wheat hits biggest weekly gain in nearly four months

Chicago / Reuters – U.S. wheat futures prices jumped 1.5 per cent on Friday and posted their biggest weekly gain in nearly four months, as traders positioned themselves ahead of a highly anticipated U.S. Department of Agriculture November supply and demand report.

Chicago Board of Trade December soft red wheat closed at $5.22 a bushel, the biggest daily futures price increase since Oct. 7.

Corn closed slightly higher and up for the week, extending the previous session’s rise, supported by signs of improving export demand. But corn futures were still down 1.5 per cent for the month.

Soybeans also edged higher on Friday, but posted both weekly and monthly losses.

“People are really trying to position themselves going into that USDA report, which typically is not much of a market mover,” said Dax Wedemeyer, a broker and grains analyst with US Commodities Inc.

“The question everyone has is whether USDA is going to continue to increase the yield and production numbers – and if so, by how much?”

The USDA report is scheduled to be released on Nov. 10 at 12 p.m. EST (1700 GMT).

For wheat, some traders say they are keeping a close eye on weather, especially in the coming days.

“Weather forecasters expect U.S. hard red winter wheat regions to get useful rainfall but they seem to be shaving the amounts in their forecasts,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

“The forecast rainfall amounts are unlikely to be enough to eliminate the concerns about pre-winter establishment of hard red winter crops because the region has a substantial soil moisture deficit.”

Better-than-expected demand for U.S. supplies was also supporting prices, analysts said.

The USDA on Thursday said weekly wheat export sales for the 2015-16 marketing year totaled 550,300 tonnes, slightly above the high end of a range of market forecasts.

December corn in Chicago on Friday closed up 0.5 per cent at $3.82-1/4 a bushel. Weekly corn export sales of 708,800 tonnes also topped expectations.

November soybeans rose 0.5 per cent to close at $8.83-3/4 a bushel. But they closed down 1.4 per cent for the week and down 1 per cent for the month.

Additional reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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