U.S. grains: Corn ends lower ahead of USDA monthly data

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures declined on Monday as traders adjusted positions a day ahead of a monthly supply-and-demand report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in which the government is expected to raise its forecast of U.S. corn ending stocks.

Wheat also fell, while soybeans ended nearly unchanged after a choppy session.

Chicago Board of Trade May corn settled down 2-1/2 cents at $3.60 per bushel (all figures US$). May wheat was down 2-1/2 cents at $4.65-1/4 a bushel and May soybeans ended down 1/4 cent at $8.98-1/4.

Corn futures hit a near one-week low as traders prepared for USDA’s report. The average estimate among analysts surveyed by Reuters for the amount of corn left over at the end of the 2018-19 marketing year was 1.991 billion bushels, up from USDA’s March forecast of 1.835 billion.

“You’re expecting to get a bearish confirmation of the bigger corn stocks tomorrow, and that’s what is weighing on corn. I don’t really see a lot else around,” said Terry Linn, analyst with Linn & Associates, a Chicago brokerage.

U.S. farmers have begun planting the 2019 U.S. corn crop in southern fringes of the crop belt. After the CBOT close, USDA reported U.S. corn planting progress as two per cent complete, matching the five-year average and an average of analyst expectations.

A storm is forecast to bring rain and potentially heavy snow to northwestern portions of the U.S. Corn Belt on Wednesday and Thursday, but the market seemed unconcerned about planting delays.

The storm could drop six to 12 inches of snow, with a few local amounts of 18 inches, on parts of South Dakota, Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the Commodity Weather Group said in a note to clients.

“It’s not a good thing, for sure; it’s going to impact cattle and a lot for things. But does it mean you are not going to plant any corn in that part of the country? No,” Linn said.

The moisture could benefit hard red winter wheat crops in the southern Plains, although the bulk of the precipitation was expected to hit farther north.

USDA rated 60 per cent of the U.S. winter wheat crop in good to excellent condition, up from 56 per cent a week ago and above an average of analyst expectations for no change.

USDA reported spring wheat planting progress as one per cent complete, behind the five-year average of five per cent and the average analyst estimate of three per cent.

Soybean traders have been monitoring developments in trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing.

Hopes last week of progress toward a deal were tempered by a lack of detail offered by the two sides at the end of the latest round of talks on Friday.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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