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U.S. grains: Fund sales pressure corn prices

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Board of Trade corn futures sagged 1.1 per cent on Thursday on a round of fund selling as the pace of harvest quickened around the U.S. Midwest and cash markets weakened, traders said.

Wheat futures also fell, following corn lower, while soybeans edged higher on strong crude oil markets and some bargain buying.

Corn hit resistance and turned lower after nearing a one-month high, a level it has struggled to break through several times during September, overnight.

“You had your… corn pushed up to a pretty solid area of resistance and the market backed off,” said Dewey Strickler, president of Ag Watch Market Advisors. “You got a little bit of fund liquidation.”

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CBOT December corn futures settled down 3-1/4 cents at $3.36-3/4 a bushel (all figures US$).

CBOT December soft red winter wheat futures were off 2-1/4 cents at $4.05-1/2 a bushel.

Wheat traders were cautious about prospects for a return to normal activity in Egypt given twists and turns in its policy on ergot this year. State grain buyer GASC was holding an import tender on Thursday, following Wednesday’s announcement that the country would revert to an international standard on ergot.

Traders said that GASC received offers from four wheat suppliers after the grains buyer amended its rules to make final inspection of supplies at the port where the wheat is loaded.

Export prospects for U.S. wheat remained dim. There were no U.S. supplies offered in the Egyptian tender.

CBOT November soybean futures settled up one cent at $9.76-1/2 a bushel after dropping 1.4 per cent on Wednesday.

Oil rose about two per cent on Thursday, after a surprisingly large drop in U.S. crude inventories emboldened investors ahead of next week’s meeting between OPEC members and Russia to discuss supply.

Expectations for rain that could slow harvest in key soybean growing areas lent additional support although commercial hedging following a pick-up in farmer sales this week limited the gains.

“The U.S. Midwest has been trending a little drier this week, but forecasters say their models are now pointing to wetter conditions for the more soybean-heavy production regions today through to Sunday,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The soybean harvest is less advanced than that of corn, making the oilseed more sensitive to heavy rains.

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

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