U.S. wheat falls with export demand, corn weak

U.S. wheat futures sank on Wednesday to their lowest levels since June 2012 as overseas buyers turned to other countries for their import needs, traders said.

Corn also fell, pressured by expectations for a bumper harvest this fall, while soybeans were mixed. Old-crop soybean contracts edged higher but new-crop fell due to the bearish weather outlook.

The benign crop weather cast a pall across the ag markets.

“It seems like there are a lot of folks that are trading corn and soybean weather in the wheat pit,” said Austin Damiani, a broker with Frontier Futures.

Weakening cash markets, which also reflected the wilting export demand, added to the pressure on wheat prices. The benchmark Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat contract has dropped 3.6 per cent so far this month.

“There has been little in the way of export developments and weather in global growing areas is not threatening enough to cause a rally,” said Sterling Smith, futures specialist at Citi Futures.

CBOT September wheat closed down seven cents at $6.43-1/2 a bushel, above the session low of $6.39 (all figures US$). The last time CBOT wheat prices were lower was on June 19, 2012, when the market bottomed out at $6.28-1/4 a bushel.

Despite the drop, U.S. wheat still remains too pricey to be competitive on the global market.

Iraq’s state grains board bought 150,000 tonnes of wheat from Australia and Canada, European traders said on Wednesday.

Egypt and Jordan also bought wheat this week, bypassing U.S. supplies for cheaper offers from countries such as Romania and Ukraine.

“While the pace of U.S. export sales remains above what is needed to hit the USDA estimate, this will slow down quickly,” INTL FCStone said research note to clients.

CBOT corn for September delivery dropped four cents to $4.68-1/4 a bushel. Prices were hovering slightly above the near-three-year low of $4.65-1/2 set earlier this week.

CBOT August soybeans were up 3-1/2 cents at $13.27-3/4 a bushel. The front-month contract dropped to $13.13-3/4 a bushel, its lowest since March 2012, before being propped up by bargain buying and short covering.

New-crop November soybeans were 1-1/2 cents lower at $11.65-3/4 a bushel.

“The positive harvest outlook in the United States is continuing to provide a weak mood in soybean, corn and wheat markets,” said Ole Hansen, head of commodity strategy at Saxo Bank. “There is no respite to the positive U.S. crop news with the weather behaving really well and supporting the outlook for bumper harvests.”

Moderate temperatures and overall satisfactory soil moisture will boost corn and soybean crop development in the U.S. crop belt over the next two weeks, MDA Weather Services said Wednesday.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain futures in Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hogan in Hamburg.

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