U.S. grains: Chicago wheat stabilizes

Corn steady after lows; soybeans continue to slip

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago wheat futures rose on Friday, as traders wrestled with conflicting signals — from concerns over export demand of U.S. crops to the potential of weather risks.

Corn futures edged higher on bargain shopping, consolidating above a 3-1/2 year low this week, while soybeans fell slightly, traders said.

The modest gains in commodities followed firming in equity and crude markets, as traders short-covered after a week of falling prices.

“Going into the weekend, traders are booking some profits,” said Jeff French, an analyst at Top Third Ag Marketing.

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Oil prices lifted, as investors reacted to comments by U.S. President Donald Trump to restart the world’s largest economy after locking down to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus, lending support to grain prices.

The most-active wheat futures contract on the Chicago Board of Trade closed 3-3/4 cents higher at $5.33-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$). Wheat fell 3.8 per cent for the week.

CBOT corn was up 2-1/2 cents at $3.22-1/4 a bushel, falling 2.6 per cent for the week, while soybeans were down 4-1/4 cents at $8.32-1/2, with a weekly slide of 3.6 per cent in five days of consecutive losses.

USDA confirmed a sale of 120,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to an unknown destination Friday, though export sales of the oilseed last week were 304,700 tonnes, below analyst estimates ranging from 375,000 to 900,000 tonnes.

U.S. wheat was offered at the lowest price in an international purchase tender from Egypt on Thursday, but the country bought from rival suppliers for a second time this week due to higher shipping costs.

The missed sale dampened hopes U.S. wheat might benefit from export restrictions in the Black Sea region.

Still, the Taiwan Flour Millers’ Association issued an international tender on Friday to purchase ‭‭220,000 tonnes of Grade 1 milling wheat, sourced from the United States.

Meanwhile, Russia — the world’s biggest wheat exporter — will exclusively sell to its domestic market once its export quota for the second quarter is exhausted, which could be by mid-May or earlier, its deputy agriculture minister Oksana Lut said on Friday.

U.S. corn export sales have been steady but do not offset plunging demand for corn-based ethanol as lockdown orders have kept cars off the roads.

As U.S. farmers begin planting corn and soybeans across the Midwest in the coming weeks, traders say they are now focused on whether higher-than-anticipated corn acres from USDA’s March 30 prospective planting report will bear out.

— Reporting for Reuters by Christopher Walljasper; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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