U.S. grains: Corn down on profit-taking as planting ‘virtually done’

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures declined on Tuesday as government data showing a rain-delayed planting campaign was nearing an end encouraged a pause in a rally that took prices to a five-year high a day earlier.

Wheat futures sank on profit-taking and competition for global export business.

Soybeans edged higher, supported by ongoing U.S. planting delays and renewed optimism about U.S.-China trade talks.

Chicago Board of Trade July corn settled down five cents at $4.49-3/4 per bushel (all figures US$).

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CBOT July wheat ended down eight cents at $5.31-1/2 a bushel while July soybeans finished 3/4 cent higher at $9.13-1/2 a bushel.

Corn halted a five-session rally, a day after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the 2019 U.S. crop was 92 per cent planted, matching trade expectations. USDA rated 59 per cent of the crop in good to excellent condition, unchanged from the week before.

“Corn planting is virtually done. We won’t see a lot more acres,” said Brian Hoops, president of Midwest Market Solutions.

Traders booked profits after the July contract hit $4.64-1/4 on Monday, the highest for a most-active contract since June 2014.

Wheat declined after the July contract on Monday touched a six-month top. A firmer dollar, which tends to make U.S. grains less attractive on the world market, added pressure.

Traders “don’t like the lack of competitiveness in U.S. corn and wheat. So I guess we are focusing on the demand side, with the market kind of overbought,” said Dan Cekander, president of DC Analysis.

Traders shrugged off support from a slow U.S. winter wheat harvest pace. USDA said the harvest was eight per cent complete by Sunday, lagging trade expectations and the five-year average of 20 per cent.

Soybean futures found support as U.S. farmers struggled to plant saturated fields. The USDA said soybean seeding was 77 per cent complete by Sunday, behind the five-year average of 93 per cent.

Analysts noted that about 19 million acres of soybeans were left to plant, given the USDA’s 2019 seedings projection of 84.6 million acres.

“You’ve got more rains coming in the next week. I don’t know how you get the rest planted,” said Roy Huckabay with Linn + Associates, a Chicago brokerage.

CBOT soybean futures firmed after U.S. President Donald Trump said he would meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the G20 summit later this month, and that trade talks between the two countries were set to restart ahead of time.

China is the world’s biggest soy buyer, but its imports of U.S. soybeans have been stalled since the middle of 2018 due to trade tensions.

CBOT soyoil futures rose as traders digested Monday’s monthly crush report from the National Oilseed Processors Association, Cekander said. The NOPA report showed U.S. processors crushed fewer soybeans than expected in May, tightening soyoil supplies, while soyoil ending stocks fell more than expected.

Reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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