U.S. grains: Corn hits seven-month high on exports

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Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures climbed to a seven-month high on Tuesday, buoyed by robust export demand amid drought conditions in No. 3 global shipper Argentina, traders said.

Soybeans also rose as rains forecast this week in Argentina were likely to provide only limited relief for soy and corn plants damaged by months of dry growing conditions.

Chicago Board of Trade May corn settled up one cent at $3.91-3/4 per bushel, off their earlier peak of $3.95-1/4 (all figures US$).

CBOT May soybeans were up 7-3/4 cents at $10.48-3/4, recovering from a three-week low reached on Monday.

Investment funds were net buyers of both commodities, traders said.

“The debate is now about just how much the Argentine soybean crop will be reduced by drought. Soybean pods are still filling so there remains a lot of potential for damage if the dryness continues,” said Charles Clack, agricultural commodity analyst at Rabobank.

Due in part to expectations of a smaller Argentine corn harvest, world corn buyers were purchasing most of their near-term needs from the United States.

South Korean importers bought over one million tonnes of corn in the past week, much of it from the U.S., European traders said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture separately announced a sale of 210,000 tonnes to South Korea of corn that could be U.S. grain or shipped from another country.

Wheat lower

Wheat prices turned lower at midday. The latest weather models showed slightly higher chances for rains in the parched southern U.S. Plains wheat belt, traders said.

Benchmark CBOT May wheat was down 4-1/4 cents, or about one per cent, at $4.86-1/2 per bushel and K.C. May wheat was off two cents to $5.20-1/4.

“Everything is looking kind of toppy today… that was a nasty reversal in wheat,” said Zaner Group analyst Ted Seifried.

Wheat earlier rose after USDA late on Monday rated 12 per cent of the winter wheat crop in the Kansas producing region as good to excellent condition, down from 13 per cent a week earlier.

USDA rated 53 per cent of the Kansas crop as poor to very poor, up from 50 per cent the previous week.

“There is concern that time is starting to run out for parts of U.S. wheat as we are coming closer to the point in the spring when the crop will move out of winter dormancy and will need moisture, otherwise yields could be hit,” Clack said.

— Michael Hirtzer reports on commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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