U.S. grains: Wheat slumps to new 10-year low on ample supplies

(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures fell for a sixth consecutive session to hit a new 10-year low on Monday, as ample global stocks and a regulatory clamp-down from the world’s largest buyer of the grain dragged on prices.

Corn set a seven-year low and soybeans also declined, pressured by prospects for large U.S. harvests of both crops.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, September wheat settled down 13 cents at $3.70-1/2 per bushel after dipping to $3.69-1/2, the lowest spot price since August 2006.

December corn settled down 4-1/4 cents at $3.20-3/4 a bushel and November soybeans ended down three cents at $9.64-1/4 a bushel.

Wheat slid after Egypt, the world’s biggest wheat importer, reinstated on Sunday a controversial ban on wheat shipments containing even the slightest amount of a common grain fungus, ergot. The move baffled traders who had returned to the Egyptian market just last month when the ban was lifted.

“The market is bemused as to where Egypt expects to find millions of tonnes of ergot-free wheat,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy, Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Egypt’s move comes at a time of huge global wheat surpluses, including stocks of feed wheat that may limit demand for corn. The International Grains Council last week projected record-high world production for 2016-17 of both wheat and corn.

“Double-digit losses in wheat reflect global surpluses and chart failures, with wheat pulling down corn as well,” INTL FCStone chief commodities economist Arlan Suderman wrote in a note to clients.

Front-month September corn dipped to $3.10-3/4 a bushel, the lowest spot price on a continuous chart since September 2009.

The Pro Farmer newsletter on Friday predicted that U.S. average corn yields in 2016 will be 170.2 bushels per acre, or enough to produce a record-large 14.728 billion-bushel crop.

“The crop may not be as big as the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) put out in early August, but it is still a monster crop,” ED+F Man Capital analyst Charlie Sernatinger wrote in a note to clients.

Pro Farmer projected soybean production at a record 4.093 billion bushels, with an average yield of 49.3 bushels per acre. Its estimates topped the USDA’s Aug. 12 outlook for a 4.06 billion-bushel crop with a yield of 48.9 bushels per acre.

After the CBOT close, USDA rated 75 per cent of the U.S. corn crop in good to excellent condition, unchanged from a week earlier, and 73 per cent of the soybean crop as good to excellent, up from 72 per cent the previous week. Both figures are historically high.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Colin Packham in Sydney and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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