U.S. grains: Corn, soybeans sag on harvest pressure, investor caution

CBOT December wheat closes higher

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and soybean futures fell on Friday on expectations for the harvest of both crops to expand in the heart of the Corn Belt, and on investor caution following news of U.S. President Donald Trump’s positive test for COVID-19, analysts said.

Wheat futures firmed on concern about dry weather in Russia, the world’s top wheat exporter.

Chicago Board of Trade December corn settled down three cents at $3.79-3/4 per bushel, and November soybeans ended down 2-3/4 cents at $10.20-3/4 a bushel (all figures US$). CBOT December wheat rose three cents to settle at $5.73-1/4 a bushel.

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All three markets closed higher for the week, fueled by tighter-than-expected quarterly U.S. stocks figures reported on Wednesday by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But attention was shifting to harvest results from farmers ahead of USDA’s Oct. 9 monthly supply/demand report, and the question of whether the government would adjust its U.S. 2020 corn yield forecast from its September estimate of 178.5 bushels per acre.

Forecasts called for mostly dry weather over the next two weeks as combines roll across the Midwest, following some light weekend showers.

“It’s harvest time, and ears are going to be (tuned) to what is happening with yields over the weekend,” said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based U.S. Commodities.

Private analytics firm IHS Markit on Friday cut its forecast of the average U.S. 2020 corn yield to 177.8 bu./ac., from 178.1 a month ago. On Thursday, brokerage StoneX lowered its U.S. corn yield estimate to 179 bu./ac., down from 179.6 a month earlier but still above USDA’s figure.

A firmer dollar hung over the market, making U.S. grains less competitive globally. The dollar index rose while equities and oil prices slipped after Trump said he and his wife had tested positive for COVID-19 a month before U.S. elections, unsettling investors.

— Reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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