Wheat prices fell more than one per cent on Friday to post their biggest loss in a week in reaction to month-end fund positioning, profit taking, and bearish news that Russia said it will not limit grain exports.
Corn and soybeans also declined on profit-taking after corn soared to a drought-induced record high early in the month and soybeans set a record high on Thursday.
"Funds are taking a little risk reduction this time of the year. A lot of this is window dressing, end-of-month and end-of-week trade but I don’t think a lot of people wanted to be short over the long weekend either," said Sterling Smith, market strategist for Citigroup.
Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) grain futures markets will be closed on Monday, the Labour Day Holiday.
Losses in wheat were curbed by trade fears that Moscow might still impose restrictions on exports and by a falling dollar. The dollar fell after a statement by U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke was not specific regarding monetary easing.
"I was a little surprised we (grains/oilseeds) were down this much with the dollar getting beat up," Smith said.
Bernanke, in a speech in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, said progress in bringing down U.S. unemployment was too slow and the central bank would act as needed to strengthen the economic recovery.
Wheat gained a half percent for the week but was down nearly two per cent for the month.
Soybeans eased after Thursday’s record high of $17.80-3/4 per bushel, reversing three consecutive days of gains (all figures US$). But prices remained underpinned by tight supplies and continued brisk demand.
Soy advanced over 1-1/2 per cent for the week and over 2-1/2 per cent for the month.
Tight stocks buoyed corn in choppy trade, but end-of-month profit-taking restrained gains as the market fluctuated around $8 per bushel.
Traders said the corn market was seeking fresh direction. The market is now nearly six per cent below the record high of $8.49 per bushel posted in new-crop December earlier in the month. The high was set as the worst U.S. drought in more than half a century slashed crop prospects.
Spot corn ended the week about flat and nearly a half percent down on the month, an indicator of the turn to choppy, two-sided dealings since the summer rally.
Bellwether new-crop December corn is up 60 per cent since the drought rally began in mid-June, and up nearly 36 per cent for the year.
Tight stocks of U.S. corn and soybeans were magnified on Friday by no deliveries being posted against either of the CBOT September futures contracts.
The lack of deliveries is a good indictor that cash customers and end-users have a need for the product and do not want to give up cash receipts.
Friday was first notice day for deliveries on the CBOT September agriculture futures contracts.
Smith also said corn and soybeans were under pressure from seasonal harvest considerations as the U.S. harvest is just getting under way following a summer drought that quickly pushed each crop to maturity and reduced production.
"We’re into harvest, meal and bean basis were getting hit ahead of harvest so it’s that time of year to go lower," Smith said, referring to the seasonal harvest pressure.
CBOT September wheat was down 13-1/2 cents per bushel at $8.70, December corn was down 8-3/4 cents at $7.99-3/4, and November soybeans were down seven cents at $17.56-1/2.
Traders said wheat captured center stage on Friday following a much-anticipated decision about exports from Moscow.
The Russian government, coping with a drought that has slashed grain yields by a more than a quarter, will not limit grain exports even if its exportable surplus is exhausted, Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich said on Friday.
"We did see a bit of a pullback in prices as a result of it, but it isn’t a huge selloff," Rabobank analyst Erin FitzPatrick said, adding it was still possible that export controls could be imposed this season.
A Reuters survey of international traders and analysts earlier this week found the majority of respondents suggested export restrictions were likely to be imposed in October.
"It’s just a headline-grabbing stunt. In 2010 they kept being reassuring and then they changed their mind suddenly (and banned grain exports). They could do just the same this year," one trader said.
— Sam Nelson writes for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting by Nigel Hunt in London.