U.S. grains: Corn, wheat hit one-month lows

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and wheat futures fell to one-month lows on Wednesday, a day ahead of monthly U.S. Department of Agriculture reports that are expected to confirm big crops and plentiful global grain supplies, analysts said.

Soybeans closed fractionally lower after a choppy session.

Chicago Board of Trade December corn settled down 3-1/4 cents at $3.46 per bushel, December wheat ended down two cents at $4.33-1/4 a bushel, and November soybeans fell 3/4 cent at $9.65-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$).

Corn dipped to $3.45-1/2 near the close, its lowest level since Sept. 12 and just above its contract low of $3.44-1/4. The market was anchored by plentiful supplies and ideas that USDA will raise its estimate of the U.S. corn harvest in its supply/demand reports on Thursday.

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“The expectations for this report, with a higher yield in corn, have got us under pressure,” said Ted Seifried, chief market strategist with Zaner Ag Hedge.

Rains slowed the U.S. Midwest harvest in recent days. USDA in a weekly crop progress report said the corn harvest was 22 per cent complete, lagging the five-year average of 37 per cent. The soybean harvest was 36 per cent complete, behind the five-year average of 43 per cent.

The corn harvest was only eight per cent finished in Iowa, the top U.S. corn state, and four per cent complete in Minnesota, the No. 4 producer. Yet the futures market seemed unconcerned.

“We are way behind up here and it has people nervous. But eventually you get it harvested. It’s more a function of what the size of the crop is going to be,” said Mark Schultz, chief analyst at Minnesota-based Northstar Commodity Investment Co.

Some analysts noted USDA’s weekly crop condition ratings improved for both corn and soybeans, a possible sign of rising yield prospects.

CBOT wheat fell on technical selling, with the December contract dipping to $4.29-3/4, its lowest level since Sept. 12. The CBOT and K.C. December wheat contracts settled roughly 10 cents above their respective contract lows.

USDA confirmed that private exporters in the last day sold 104,202 tonnes of U.S. hard red winter wheat and 150,000 tonnes of corn to Mexico. Exporters also sold 264,000 tonnes of soybeans to China and another 132,000 tonnes of soy to unknown destinations.

“While this was in fact positive news, the fact that yearly sales trail expectations (is) limiting market response,” MaxYield Cooperative analyst Karl Setzer wrote in a note.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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