U.S. grains: Wheat, soy post big losses on weakening export demand

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures dropped 2.5 per cent on Monday on poor export demand and lessened concerns about damage to the dormant U.S. crop, traders said.

Poor export demand also weighed on soybeans. Traders added that easing worries about a truckers’ strike in Brazil slowing shipments of newly harvested supplies from that country pressured the market.

“Beans started out steady, but fell off hard, led by the meal, with the market finally starting to react to the loss of the export market,” Charlie Sernatinger, analyst with ED+F Man Capital, said in a note to clients. “Wheat got smoked hard today as the lack of export demand filters through to the market.”

The declines in wheat and soybeans spilled over into corn, which followed the other agricultural commodities lower.

Wheat posted the biggest loss following news that Egypt, the world’s largest buyer of the grain, had snapped up 110,000 tonnes of Russian and Ukrainian supplies in its latest tender.

“We have had some demand (recently),” said Mark Schultz, chief analyst at Northstar Commodity Investment Co. “But that has to be sustained in order to give us some support.”

Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat for May delivery dropped 13 cents to close at $5 per bushel (all figures US$).

Recent snow in the U.S. Plains and Midwest provided a protective blanket for the dormant crop in key production areas, calming fears about freeze damage and causing some investors to take a risk premium out of the market. More snow was forecast, which will further boost soil moisture.

The U.S. Agriculture Department’s National Agriculture Statistics Service will issue monthly reports on the condition of the crop in large winter wheat-growing states on Monday afternoon.

CBOT May soybeans were 18 cents lower at $10.13-3/4 a bushel. The contract fell below support at its 100-day moving average.

USDA said weekly export inspections of soybeans fell to 635,164 tonnes in the latest week, below forecasts for 750,000 to 950,000 tonnes.

Brazil’s truckers continued their protests on Monday but road blockages were down to 24 from 99 a week ago. The government cracked down on protesters and promised to implement a law to lower toll costs.

CBOT May corn was 5-1/4 cents lower at $3.88 a bushel.

Heavy deliveries against the expiring March corn contract, which reflected light demand, also weighed on corn.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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