Chicago | Reuters – U.S. corn futures inched higher on Monday, snapping a four-session slide, as forecasts for rains to re-emerge in the Midwest next week raised concerns about harvest delays and crop quality, analysts said.
Soybeans ended narrowly higher while wheat futures sagged in subdued trade, pressured by a firm dollar and weak export demand for U.S. supplies.
Chicago Board of Trade December corn settled up 2-1/2 cents at $3.69-1/2 per bushel, rallying after the contract fell to $3.65-1/2, its lowest since Oct. 11.
November soybeans ended up 1-3/4 cents at $8.58-1/2 a bushel while CBOT December wheat fell 6-3/4 cents at $5.08 a bushel.
Corn and soybeans firmed on light technical buying and worries about crop damage given forecasts for showers in the Midwest crop belt next week. Heavy rains in recent weeks have threatened grain yields and quality in some areas, and traders are trying to gauge the extent of the damage.
“The question is, are we losing bushels, and if so, how much and how widespread is this?” said Ted Seifried, chief agriculture market strategist for brokerage Zaner Group in Chicago.
However, mostly dry weather in the Midwest this week should spur harvest progress in the short term.
Ahead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly crop progress report later on Monday, analysts surveyed by Reuters on average expected the government to report the U.S. corn harvest as 51 percent complete and the soybean harvest as 52 percent complete.
CBOT soft red winter wheat futures fell more than 1 percent, with the December contract posting its lowest since Oct. 12. K.C. December hard red winter wheat dipped to $5.06-1/4, its lowest since Sept. 14, before finishing at $5.07-3/4.
“Chicago and Kansas City wheat futures are testing the early October lows as the trade grows impatient awaiting an improved U.S. wheat export sales/shipment pace,” DC Analysis president Dan Cekander wrote in a note to clients.
A firmer U.S. dollar added pressure, theoretically making U.S. grains less competitive on the world market. The dollar rose as the euro continued its slide on political uncertainty over Italy’s budget.
Analysts noted that daily trading volume in CBOT wheat futures was relatively light at less than 75,000 contracts.
“There is nothing to see. There is just not an incentive to get involved,” one Chicago trader said.
Additional reporting by P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago, Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore