U.S. grains: Wheat falls to contract lows on export data

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures fell to life-of-contract lows on Friday, pressured by disappointing weekly export sales data and ample global supplies, analysts said.

Corn and soybeans futures followed wheat lower, bucking support from strength in crude oil and a weaker dollar, which tends to make U.S. grains more competitive globally. Trade in CBOT grains closed early following Thursday’s U.S. Thanksgiving holiday.

CBOT December wheat settled down seven cents at $4.15-3/4 a bushel after dipping to $4.12-1/2, a contract low (all figures US$).

CBOT December corn ended down three cents at $3.42-1/4 a bushel while January soybeans fell 4 cents at $9.93-1/4 a bushel.

Wheat sagged after weekly export sales of U.S. wheat fell below a range of trade expectations, reflecting stiff competition for export business amid plentiful world supplies.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales of old-crop U.S. wheat in the latest week at 199,845 tonnes, the smallest tally in six weeks. Analysts had expected sales of 350,000 to 550,000 tonnes.

“It’s a little surprising,” Mark Gold, managing partner at Chicago-based Top Third Ag Marketing, said of the decline in CBOT wheat futures, “considering how short the funds are, and the break in the dollar. But we just don’t have any exports.”

Corn followed wheat lower and soybeans turned down after the January contract fell a tick short of reaching $10 a bushel. Adding pressure to prices, analysts noted forecasts for beneficial rains in crop areas of Argentina.

“Both corn and soybeans have periodically traded in positive territory but sustaining a rally remains difficult in the face of better rains for Argentina next week and this morning’s sluggish export sales report from USDA,” INTL FCStone chief commodities economist Arlan Suderman wrote in a note to clients.

USDA reported weekly export sales of U.S. corn at 1,106,400 tonnes (old and new crop years combined), in line with trade expectations.

USDA’s weekly sales tally for soybeans fell below one million tonnes, below a range of trade expectations. Export sales of soymeal, at 379,800 tonnes, topped expectations, helping lift CBOT December soymeal to record a one-month high of $327 per short ton before turning lower.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago.

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