U.S. grains: Soy weakens, corn gains ahead of USDA report

(Photo courtesy United Soybean Board)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures closed lower on Wednesday, while corn and wheat prices edged higher as investors squared positions ahead of U.S. Department of Agriculture plantings and grain stocks data on Friday, traders and analysts said.

Soybean futures fell to the lowest levels since October and corn and wheat each held above recent multi-month lows as ample global grain and oilseed supplies continued to anchor prices.

USDA is expected to show increased U.S. soybean plantings and reduced seedings of corn as well as bigger year-on-year U.S. stockpiles of corn, soybeans and wheat as of March 1, according to analysts polled by Reuters.

“It looks like people are waiting for what the USDA has to say and not doing much until then,” said Jack Scoville, analyst at the Price Futures Group. “It’s been a pretty low-volume affair the last couple of days. Today doesn’t seem any different.”

Outlooks for crop-friendly rainfall in the southern U.S. Plains wheat belt have weighed on wheat futures so far this week, while bumper soybean and corn harvests in South America pressured futures for those crops.

Chicago Board of Trade May soybean futures settled three cents lower at $9.69 per bushel, above their earlier session low of $9.67-1/4 (all figures US$).

CBOT May corn futures were up 3/4 cent to $3.58-1/2 per bushel and CBOT May wheat one cent higher at $4.25-1/2.

Prices were one per cent higher for MGEX spring wheat, while CBOT soymeal futures and Malaysian palm oil futures also gained.

Commodity funds sold small amounts of soybean futures contracts and were net buyers of corn and wheat futures, traders said.

Analysts said forecasts for wet weather across key U.S. growing regions would likely limit support.

“There are forecasts for rains over the next three or four days, which will aid crop development. The fundamentals remain bearish,” said Andrew Woodhouse, grains analyst at Advance Trading Australasia.

— Michael Hirtzer reports on commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Nigel Hunt in London and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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