U.S. grains: Corn weakens as weather improves

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures sank 1.4 per cent to a six-week low on Thursday, under pressure from improving weather forecasts across the U.S. Midwest as the crop nears key developmental phases, analysts said.

The weather outlook also weighed on soybeans, which eased to a three-week low. Wheat also weakened, dragged down by the drop in corn as well as seasonal harvest pressure.

K.C. hard red winter wheat futures posted the biggest declines of the wheat market, dropping one per cent and bottoming out at their lowest level in 10 years.

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Corn futures notched their fourth straight losing session, the longest streak of lower closes since one of an equal length that ended on March 1. The most-active contract has shed 11.5 per cent during the stretch.

“Heavy rains helped crops from eastern Iowa into Ohio over the past 24 hours and maps for the next seven days call for a couple more systems to keep filling in many of the dry spots in the growing region,” said Bryce Knorr, senior grain market analyst at Farm Futures.

Chicago Board of Trade July corn futures closed down 5-3/4 cents at $3.87-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). Prices bottomed out at $3.84 a bushel, the lowest for the most-active contract since May 12.

Storms rolled through the U.S. corn belt on Tuesday and Wednesday, easing concerns about dryness in some areas. With the crop heading into its pollination phase, which typically occurs in July in the Midwest, weather remained the focus.

“The bearishness is induced by beneficial rainfalls reaching the corn belt,” consultancy Agritel said. “Funds, which are still very long on corn and soybean because of fears of La Nina this summer, keep slashing their positions.”

CBOT July soybeans were 13 cents lower at $11.24-1/2 a bushel and CBOT July wheat was off 4-1/2 cents at $4.54-1/4 a bushel.

Losses in wheat were kept in check by worries over potential quality problems in Europe and the Black Sea region after heavy spring rain.

Analysts also see wheat as attractively priced to pick up livestock feed demand from corn.

“Corn is facing big competition from wheat,” said Ole Houe, an analyst at brokerage IKON Commodities in Sydney.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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