U.S. grains: Wheat rallies on dry weather fears

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures jumped more than two per cent on Friday and ended the week up nearly five per cent as worries about dry weather in key global production regions fueled short-covering and speculative buying.

Soybeans advanced for the fifth time in six sessions on renewed Chinese buying of U.S. export shipments, while corn edged upward on spillover support from higher wheat.

Stressful weather in the U.S. Plains wheat belt and forecasts for continued hot, dry conditions in key production areas have boosted prices by nearly nine per cent over the past two weeks.

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“The drought in the Southwest is starting to build, moving into the Plains and getting more severe,” said Karl Setzer, analyst with MaxYield Cooperative.

The U.S. wheat concerns have added to worries about crops in parts of Canada, Australia and Russia — all major wheat exporters — fueling expectations of a tighter supply balance after record inventories had been forecast for this season.

Chicago Board of Trade July wheat was up 12-3/4 cents, or 2.4 per cent, at $5.43 a bushel (all figures US$). The contract notched a 4.8 per cent weekly gain and ended near a 10-month peak of $5.45-1/4 set on Thursday.

CBOT July corn was up 1-3/4 cents at $4.06 a bushel. The contract gained 0.9 per cent this week, its second straight weekly gain.

Soybeans drew support from renewed demand from China following an easing of U.S.-China trade tensions last weekend.

China has given the green light to state-owned companies to begin buying U.S. soybeans again, although buyers are challenged by tight crush margins and high inventories.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday confirmed private sales of 312,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans and 165,000 tonnes of optional-origin soybeans to China via its daily reporting system. That followed a 264,000-tonne sale announced on Thursday to an unknown destination, broadly thought to be China.

Concerns that a truckers’ protest in Brazil could impede exports from the top soy supplier added underlying support, along with news that Argentina was freezing its soybean export tax reforms.

CBOT July soybeans were up 5-3/4 cents at $10.41-1/2 a bushel. The contract ended the week up 4.1 per cent, the strongest weekly gain for the market’s most actively traded contract since early July 2017.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and agribusiness for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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