U.S. grains: Weather uncertainty lifts corn to six-month peak

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. corn futures rose to a six-month peak on Thursday, adding to strong gains earlier in the week as adverse weather in parts of the U.S. Midwest and Western Europe threatened crops.

Prices for soybeans and wheat were mixed as investors squared positions ahead of the U.S. Independence Day holiday weekend that begins on Friday, when U.S. markets are closed.

Concern that wet weather would curb corn and soybean production prospects kept a floor under prices, which got a boost this week from U.S. Department of Agriculture data on Tuesday that showed lower-than-expected stocks of the crops.

More rain is expected in the coming days in parts of the southern and eastern Corn Belt, forecasters said.

“The latest forecasts shifted the rain to the wettest areas of Indiana, Illinois and Ohio and that is putting some premium back into the market for corn and soybeans,” said Brian Hoops, president of Midwest Market Solutions.

Hot, dry weather in grain production regions in Europe added further support, he said.

Analytics firm Informa Economics cut its U.S. corn production forecast on Thursday to 13.412 billion bushels, down from 13.564 billion previously, and trimmed average yields by one bushel per acre to 165.4 bu./ac., trade sources said. Informa also trimmed its U.S. soy crop forecast slightly.

Chicago Board of Trade September corn rose six cents, or 1.4 per cent, to $4.28-1/2 a bushel, the contract’s highest point this year (all figures US$). The contract was up 9.2 per cent this week after gaining 9.4 per cent last week, the strongest two-week corn rally in three years.

CBOT August soybeans declined 2-1/2 cents, or 0.4 per cent, to $10.38-1/4 a bushel, but the contract ended the week up 4.1 per cent for a third straight weekly gain.

Wheat prices were anchored by ample world stocks and weak demand for U.S. supplies.

Egypt’s government wheat buyer, GASC, purchased 60,000 tonnes of Romanian wheat via a tender. No U.S. grain was offered amid uncompetitively high prices.

September soft red winter wheat settled two cents higher at $5.90-1/2 a bushel for a 0.3 per cent gain on the day and up four per cent for the week.

Commodity funds bought an estimated net 11,000 corn contracts on Thursday but were net even in soybeans and wheat, trade sources said.

Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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