U.S. grains: Dollar strength, harvest pressure “smokes” wheat; corn, soy weak

Chicago / Reuters – Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures sank 3.4 percent on Monday to their lowest in more than three weeks, the fifth straight losing session, on pressure from dollar strength and a pick-up in the pace of harvest, traders said.

Soybean and corn futures also fell, weighed down by improving weather for crop development in the U.S. Midwest as well as technical weakness.

Wheat has shed 8.9 percent of its value during the losing streak.

“Wheat got smoked all day long, a combination of harvest hedging, chart selling, corn/wheat spreading, and perceptions of plenty of world wheat around,” Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures at ED&F Man Capital. “The export line up for wheat remains less than impressive.”

The firm dollar weighed across the commodities sector as it made U.S. offerings more expensive to overseas buyers and lessened their attractiveness as an inflationary hedge.

The dollar hit a three-month high against a basket of major currencies on Monday after solid U.S. inflation and housing data supported expectations for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates in coming months.

Chicago Board of Trade September wheat futures ended down 21-1/4 cents at $5.32-3/4 a bushel. Prices bottomed out at $5.30-1/2, the lowest June 26, earlier in the session.

“Harvest is zipping along and we don’t have any demand,” said Mark Gold, managing partner with Top Third Ag Marketing.

A turn to warmer weather across the U.S. Midwest this weekend helped dry out soaked fields in much of the eastern Corn Belt.

“If the current weather pattern of less rain and higher temps continues, beans will remain under pressure,” Joe Lardy, research analyst with CHS Hedging said in a note to clients.

CBOT August soybeans ended down 7 cents at $10.07-3/4 a bushel while CBOT September corn was 15-1/4 cents lower at $4.05 a bushel.

A U.S. Agriculture Department report on Monday afternoon was expected to show that good-to-excellent ratings for both corn and soybeans stabilized in the latest week.

Fund selling also pressured both commodities after a Commodity Futures Trading Commission report on Friday showed that speculators again boosted their net long stake in them. For soybeans, it was the biggest since June 2014. For corn, it was the biggest since January.

Mark Weinraub reports on grain markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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