Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and soybean futures closed higher on Wednesday on light technical buying as a blizzard bore down on portions of the Plains and Midwest, threatening to delay plantings, analysts said.
Wheat futures fell, recording a fifth straight lower close, as traders focused on plentiful world supplies.
Chicago Board of Trade May corn settled up 1-3/4 cents at $3.61-3/4 per bushel and May soybeans ended up 3-1/4 cents at $9.02 a bushel (all figures US$). CBOT May wheat finished down 1-1/2 cents at $4.58 a bushel.
Traders were monitoring the progress of a winter storm that was forecast to dump as much as 30 inches of wet, heavy snow on western Minnesota and southeast South Dakota, the National Weather Service said.
The storm was expected to exacerbate flooding along the Missouri River in areas where dozens of levees were breached in March. Farmers in the region are struggling to prepare fields ahead of corn and soybean planting.
Support for prices also stemmed from optimism about U.S. trade talks with China. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the two sides have basically settled on a mechanism to police any agreement, including new enforcement offices.
U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said on Tuesday that talks with China about reducing Beijing’s tariff on U.S. ethanol products were “positive,” but cautioned the discussions were not over.
Meanwhile, China’s ministry of commerce is set to review its anti-dumping tariffs on imports from the U.S. of distillers grains (DDGS), an animal feed ingredient that is a byproduct of ethanol plants, according to a document issued by the China Alcoholic Drinks Association.
“CBOT corn and soybean futures found support from U.S. planting delay concerns, and on trade optimism that ongoing U.S.-China trade negotiations in Washington are making progress,” Dan Cekander, president of DC Analysis, wrote in a note to clients.
But reminders of plentiful U.S. grain supplies hung over the market, capping rallies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture this week raised its forecasts of 2018-19 global corn and wheat ending stocks more than most analysts expected.
CBOT May corn fell to a contract low on Tuesday, but commodity funds already hold a massive net short position in corn futures, a factor that may limit further declines.
In Europe, farming agency FranceAgriMer raised its forecast for French soft wheat exports outside the European Union this season for the third month in a row, underlining a recent acceleration in shipments from the EU’s biggest grain grower.
FranceAgriMer now expects non-EU soft wheat exports in the 2018-19 season at 9.7 million tonnes, up from the 9.5 million forecast last month and 19.5 per cent above last season’s volume.
— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.