U.S. grains: Wheat jumps for seventh straight day

(Stephen Ausmus photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures climbed for a seventh straight session on Thursday, the longest such streak in nearly two years, as a weaker U.S. dollar and concerns about adverse crop weather sparked fund short covering and other buying.

Soybeans also rose for a seventh day while corn advanced for the sixth time in seven sessions, drawing support from stronger-than-expected export sales in a weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

The dollar fell to a near-one-month low against a basket of currencies after European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said he did not anticipate more interest rate cuts to revive a sluggish euro zone economy.

“Grain and oilseed prices found buying interest as the dollar fell, making our commodities more competitive overseas,” said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist with INTL FCStone.

“Further support comes from increased weather risk for the growing season ahead as speculative hedge fund managers lighten their load of massive short positions,” he said.

The latest Commodity Futures Trading Commission data late last week showed non-commercial traders holding their largest net short positions on record in corn, soybean and wheat markets.

Weather concerns included the expansion of abnormally dry conditions in some areas of the southern Plains hard red winter wheat belt and heavy rains in the Delta and southern Midwest, where farmers are preparing to plant crops, including corn.

Chicago Board of Trade May wheat settled up 8-3/4 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to a one-month high of $4.77 a bushel (all figures US$). Buying accelerated as the contract rose above its 50-day moving average around $4.70-1/2.

CBOT May corn added 3-1/4 cents, or 0.8 per cent, to $3.62-3/4 a bushel, a two-week high. CBOT May soybeans gained 3-1/2 cents, or 0.3 per cent, to $8.89-1/4 a bushel, the highest in 2-1/2 weeks.

Wheat and soybeans drew some support from downward revisions to world stocks in USDA’s monthly supply and demand data on Wednesday.

USDA trimmed global soy stocks to 78.87 million tonnes, below forecasts ranging from 80 million to 82 million tonnes. It also cut world wheat stocks by more than expected but the stockpile remained the largest on record.

USDA on Thursday reported net U.S. corn export sales last week topped one million tonnes for a fourth straight week, although season-to-date sales remained 20 per cent behind the same point last year.

Soybean and wheat export sales were within the range of analysts’ estimates.

Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Colin Packham in Sydney, Gus Trompiz in Paris and Julie Ingwersen in Chicago.

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