U.S. grains: Corn firms as rainy Midwest outlook threatens harvest

CBOT December 2018 corn, with 50-day moving average in orange. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures firmed on Thursday on concerns that several days of rainy weather expected across the U.S. Midwest could disrupt harvesting of what is forecast to be a bumper U.S. crop.

Soybeans also drew support from the wet forecast, but shed gains late in the session in a technical selling setback.

Weather forecasters expect heavy rain across much of the western and central Midwest over the next week, likely soaking mature corn and soybeans in major producing states including Iowa, Illinois and Minnesota.

The wet pattern is expected to delay harvesting that has thus far been ahead of the normal pace.

“There’s more focus on the weather today. These extended forecasts are showing consistent rain and maybe a consistent harvest delay that will last more than just a few days,” said Rich Nelson, chief strategist with Allendale Inc.

Strong weekly export sales reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture underpinned corn and soybeans, although traders remain concerned about the lagging pace of soybean sales so far this season because of a lack of demand from China.

USDA said exporters sold a net 1.43 million tonnes of corn last week and a net 1.52 million tonnes of soybeans, both near the high end of a range of trade estimates.

The soybean sales featured a cancellation of 124,100 tonnes in sales to China, however, and season-to-date sales remain 13 per cent behind a year ago. Corn sales so far this season are 63 per cent ahead of a year ago, USDA data showed.

Chicago Board of Trade December corn futures rose 2-3/4 cents to $3.67-1/2 a bushel, closing above its 50-day moving average for the first time since mid-August (all figures US$).

November soybeans ended down 2-1/4 cents at $8.59-1/4 a bushel, closing near its session low after failing to hold chart support at its 50-day moving average.

Wheat futures firmed on short-covering and spillover support from corn, with CBOT December futures up 2-3/4 cents at $5.18 a bushel. But gains were capped by lacklustre export demand amid steady global competition from rival suppliers.

Major importer Egypt bought three cargoes of Russian wheat via a snap tender on Thursday. No U.S. wheat was offered in the tender.

The wheat market has been supported this week by a threat from Russia’s agriculture safety watchdog to suspend loading at some locations, although the agency later played down the threat.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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