U.S. grains: Corn hits contract lows on sluggish exports, mild weather

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures fell to life-of-contract lows on Friday, pressured by disappointing weekly U.S. export data and forecasts for benign weather in the heart of the Midwest crop belt, analysts said.

Soybeans turned down, retreating from early advances, and wheat followed the lower trend.

Chicago Board of Trade December corn settled down 3-1/4 cents at $3.55-1/2 per bushel after hitting a contract low at $3.53 (all figures US$).

CBOT November soybeans ended down 3-3/4 cents at $8.57-3/4 a bushel and December wheat fell 2-1/2 cents to settle at $4.63-3/4 a bushel.

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Corn declined after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales of U.S. corn in the latest week at 250,800 tonnes (old- and new-crop years combined), below a range of trade expectations for 500,000 to 900,000 tonnes.

Also, forecasts called for beneficial rains next week in portions of the Corn Belt, and no sign of a cold spell that could shorten the growing season for this year’s late-maturing corn and soy crops.

“The U.S. weather is non-threatening. We don’t look for any frost or freezes by the end of the month,” said Terry Reilly, senior analyst with Futures International in Chicago.

Private analytics firm IEG Vantage, formerly known as Informa Economics IEG, raised its forecast of the average U.S. 2019 corn yield to 169.6 bushels per acre, up from 167.8 a month ago and just above the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s estimate of 169.5.

USDA is scheduled to release updated monthly U.S. and world crop production estimates on Sept. 12.

For soybeans, IEG slightly raised its U.S. yield forecast to 48.4 bu./ac., from 48.2 last month.

CBOT soybean futures found support from USDA reporting weekly soybean export sales at 857,900 tonnes (old- and new-crop years combined), above trade expectations.

But soy futures turned down on technical selling and outlooks for mild weather that should bolster production prospects.

“The key fundamental factor is the U.S. weather which has put pressure on prices,” said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist, National Australia Bank.

Also bearish, Statistics Canada reported Canadian stocks of canola, an oilseed that competes with soy, at a record-high 3.9 million tonnes, up 55 per cent from last year.

“There is a lot of canola that Canada needs to deal with,” Reilly said.

CBOT wheat fell on profit-taking following a two-session rally, but stayed above three-month lows set this week.

Similarly, front-month K.C. hard red winter wheat and MGEX spring wheat declined but held above multi-year lows established on Tuesday.

Ample global wheat stocks hung over the markets, capping rallies.

Traders awaited the results of a wheat tender called by Saudi Arabia, which has changed its terms to enable Black Sea origins such as Russian wheat to be offered.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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