U.S. grains: Soy, corn weaker on Argentina rains, profit-taking

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean, corn and wheat futures eased on Monday, weighed down by profit-taking and expectations for more crop-friendly rainfall in Argentina.

Wheat futures retraced early gains despite bitter cold temperatures in the U.S. which left dormant plants vulnerable to damage.

Chicago Board of Trade soybeans notched the largest declines of the three commodities. CBOT January soybeans finished 15-1/4 cents lower at $10.21-1/2 per bushel, following two straight sessions of gains last week (all figures US$).

“There’s a little premium being taken out because Argentina got rain,” said Zaner Group broker Tim Hackbarth.

The Commodity Weather Group said in a note to clients that rains over the weekend and more precipitation later this week would benefit nearly all of the driest spots in Argentina. The meteorology firm also said that half of the U.S. Plains wheat belt was cold enough over the weekend to kill some wheat plants.

CBOT March wheat settled 4-1/4 cents lower at $4.05 per bushel. K.C. March hard red winter wheat edged 3/4 cent lower at $4.14, off their earlier peak of $4.19-3/4.

Corn for March delivery was down three cents to $3.53-1/4 per bushel, a roughly one-week low.

The dollar, which eased from last week’s 14-year high against a basket of major currencies, remained a curb on U.S. grain futures as it makes dollar-priced commodities less attractive to overseas buyers.

However, export demand for U.S. soybeans and corn remained robust. The U.S. Department of Agriculture through its daily export sales reporting program announced sales of 264,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China and 128,000 tonnes of U.S. corn to Japan.

Since the weekend, parts of the U.S. Plains and Midwest have experienced negative Fahrenheit temperatures, equivalent to -18 C or lower, a level that can threaten wheat crops depending on snow cover.

“It is very cold in the U.S. and that has some concerned about crop losses,” said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist, National Australia Bank.

Roughly 20 per cent of the hard red winter wheat crop in the U.S. Plains is vulnerable to frost damage, an agricultural meteorologist said on Friday.

— Michael Hirtzer reports on ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Colin Packham in Sydney and Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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