U.S. grains: Spring wheat near three-year high on dry weather

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. spring wheat futures hit their highest level in nearly three years on Tuesday on forecasts for stressful weather in the northern Plains, analysts said.

Corn and soybean futures also climbed after a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report said the condition of all three U.S. crops was worse than analysts had expected.

Chicago Board of Trade July corn pared gains and settled up 1/4 cent at $3.59-1/4 per bushel (all figures US$). July soybeans ended up 4-1/2 cents at $9.11-1/4 a bushel and CBOT July wheat rose 3-1/4 cents at $4.53-1/4 a bushel.

July spring wheat futures on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGEX) settled up 17-3/4 cents at $6.81-1/2 after reaching $6.88, the highest spot price on a continuous chart since July 2014.

“Some of the spring wheat areas are just parched, and they are going to remain dry over the next 10 to 14 days,” said Terry Reilly, senior commodity analyst with Futures International.

In its weekly U.S. crop conditions report, USDA rated 40 per cent of the spring wheat crop in good to excellent condition, down from 41 per cent a week earlier and below market expectations of 41 per cent.

CBOT wheat followed MGEX wheat higher and drew additional support from a drop in the dollar, Reilly said. A weaker currency can make U.S. grains more competitive on the global export market.

The dollar hit a more than nine-month low against the euro after the head of the European Central Bank opened the door to steps that might begin to reduce the central bank’s emergency stimulus to the economy.

CBOT corn and soybeans, like wheat, firmed on disappointing crop ratings. USDA rated 66 per cent of U.S. soybeans in good to excellent condition, down from 67 per cent a week ago and surprising analysts who expected an improvement.

USDA rated 67 per cent of the U.S. corn crop in good to excellent condition, unchanged from last week but below analysts’ expectations of 68 per cent.

Traders were positioning ahead of USDA’s June 30 U.S. sowing acreage and quarterly stocks reports, which have a history of jolting markets. Analysts expected the government to raise slightly its estimate of U.S. 2017 corn plantings and trim its soybean plantings figure.

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

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