U.S. wheat rises, pulls corn and soybeans higher

U.S. wheat futures rose on Monday as expectations of production declines in Russia and Ukraine put a premium on high-protein supplies, traders said.

Corn futures also firmed, following the strength in wheat, while soybeans were close to unchanged.

Wheat’s gains put it close to a 3-1/2 month high, resuming a bullish trend that began in September as global export demand perked up. The front-month Chicago Board of Trade contract rose 5.5 per cent during September, its biggest monthly gain of the year.

“You have got the headlines from the Black Sea overnight on the potential acreage cuts,” said Garrett Toay, risk management consultant at Toay Commodities Futures Group in Des Moines, Iowa. “That has been rumoured about for some time.”

CBOT December soft red winter wheat settled up 7-3/4 cents at $6.94-3/4 a bushel (all figures US$). CBOT wheat has risen for 13 of the last 16 trading sessions.

“Wheat has transitioned from a follower role to a strong performer, despite ample global supply, as key buyers seek out quality and protein,” Deutsche Bank said in a market note.

The recent run-up in wheat has forced investors to unwind their bearish bets on the commodity.

“Even without a Commitments of Traders report out, it is still widely assumed that the speculators are net short, and that is a positive,” said Chad Henderson, a grain market adviser at Prime Agricultural Consultants in Brookfield, Wisconsin.

CBOT December corn was six cents higher at $4.49-1/4 a bushel, although gains were kept in check by pressure from the U.S. harvest. CBOT November soybeans gained 1-1/2 cents to $12.96-1/2 a bushel.

Some rainy weather across a broad stretch of the U.S. kept harvest progress in check during the past week, but farmers were expected to pick up the pace in the coming days as fields dry out.

The corn harvest was likely 20 per cent complete as of Oct. 6, according to the average of 11 estimates in a Reuters poll of analysts. Soybean harvest was pegged at 22 per cent complete.

The U.S. Agriculture Department typically provides an update on harvest on Monday afternoons, but no report was expected this week due to the partial shutdown of the U.S. government.

USDA, which did provide weekly export inspections data on a government website on Monday morning, said it will not issue its monthly crop report and world supply and demand estimates on Friday because of the shutdown. No new date was set for the release of the much anticipated report, which would have incorporated yield reports from U.S. farmers in the data.

The area sown to winter wheat in Ukraine and Russia, both major exporters, is set to fall, signalling more risks for next year’s global supply.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain and oilseed futures markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Nigel Hunt in London.

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