U.S. grains: Soybeans near seven-year peak

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures hit their highest in almost seven years on Monday as forecasts for dry weather in Argentina and excessive rains in Brazil stoked supply concerns.

Wheat futures declined, pressured by forecasts for beneficial rains in the U.S. Plains winter wheat belt late this week. Corn futures ended mostly higher after a choppy session.

A firmer U.S. dollar hung over the markets, theoretically making U.S. grains less competitive globally.

Chicago Board of Trade May soybeans settled up 3-3/4 cents at $14.33-3/4 per bushel, paring gains after reaching $14.60, the highest price on a continuous chart of the most-active soybean contract since June 2014 (all figures US$).

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Contract highs were set across the board in CBOT soybean and soyoil futures.

CBOT May wheat ended down 6-1/2 cents at $6.46-1/2 a bushel. May corn settled up 1-1/2 cents at $5.47 a bushel and back months hit contract highs, including the new-crop December contract, which represents corn that will be planted this spring.

Soybean futures set the tone, surging in early moves on South American weather woes.

“Brazil’s soybean harvest is being dogged, and a little depleted, by wet weather,” said Tobin Gorey of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. “Argentina’s hot, dry weather outlook is threatening soybean crops.”

Brazilian farmers had harvested an estimated 35 per cent of the planted soybean area through last Thursday, down from 49 per cent a year ago and the slowest pace in a decade, agribusiness consultancy AgRural said. Bean quality is also being affected by damp conditions.

Traders were also adjusting positions ahead of Tuesday’s monthly supply/demand report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, while looking ahead to USDA’s big U.S. planting intentions and quarterly stocks reports on March 31.

Analysts expect USDA on Tuesday to lower its estimates for 2020-21 ending stocks for soybeans and corn.

Wheat futures fell on forecasts for welcome showers in the southern U.S. Plains and Midwest.

“It’s better chances of rain here in the short term,” said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based U.S. Commodities.

After the CBOT close, USDA rated 36 per cent of the winter wheat in Kansas, the top U.S. producer, in good to excellent condition, down from 37 per cent a week earlier. But ratings improved in Oklahoma, with 53 per cent of the state’s crop rated good to excellent, up from 46 per cent the previous week.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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