U.S. grains: Wheat rallies on dollar weakness, export hopes

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures rallied from one-week lows on Friday in a technical and bargain-buying bounce as a weakened U.S. dollar and rising wheat prices in rival exporting nations boosted prospects for U.S. shipments.

Corn and soybeans also advanced on technical buying and concerns about crop prospects in South America due to adverse weather in Brazil and Argentina.

Hopes for a thaw in trade relations between the United States and China further underpinned grains as U.S. officials said Beijing’s top trade negotiator could visit Washington this month for high-level talks.

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Grain markets have been reluctant to break out of recent trading ranges as traders await confirmation that China is following through on vows to buy “a significant amount” of U.S. agricultural products and other goods.

The top soy importer has booked an estimated five million tonnes of U.S. soybeans over the past month, but deals for other products such as corn and wheat have not happened, according to traders.

The U.S. dollar was near a three-month low against a basket of currencies. A weaker greenback makes dollar-denominated commodities cheaper for those holding other currencies.

“The weakened dollar has helped a bit. We’re at the lowest level for the dollar in quite some time,” said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading. “And U.S. wheat is one of the cheapest grains in town right now.”

Drought in north Africa, a major wheat-consuming region, has boosted demand for the grain at a time when supplies in top exporter Russia are beginning to run low, he said.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) March wheat jumped 5-3/4 cents to $5.19-1/2 a bushel after closing at its 10-day moving average a day earlier (all figures US$). Technical buying developed as the market held support at that level on Friday and broke through chart resistance at its 20- and 50-day moving averages.

For the week, the benchmark wheat contract gained 0.5 per cent, rising for a second straight week.

CBOT March soybeans gained 3-3/4 cents to $9.10-1/4 a bushel, holding chart support at its 50-day moving average. March corn rose two cents to $3.78-1/4 a bushel.

Both corn and soybeans fell 1.2 per cent in the week for their fourth weekly declines in five weeks.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have normally published a fresh crop forecast on Friday but updates have been postponed indefinitely due to the government shutdown.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Nigel Hunt in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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