U.S. grains: Wheat closes higher on short-covering

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures edged higher on Friday, snapping a three-day losing streak on some end-of-week short-covering, traders said.

Soybean futures were mixed, with the most-active contract easing after hitting a 3-1/2-month peak overnight. Deferred contracts ended slightly higher, supported by recent gains in Brazil’s currency that raised hopes of increased export demand for U.S. supplies.

Profit-taking weighed on corn futures, which closed in negative territory following a run-up to a six-week high on Thursday.

Despite the late round of short-covering, the most-actively traded Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat contract notched a weekly loss of 2.5 per cent, its biggest such decline in six weeks.

Forecasts for good weather for crop development across the U.S. Plains kept a bearish tone firmly in place over the wheat market despite the higher close.

“Cold risks for wheat areas remain low through the rest of the month, as temperatures will not be cold enough in areas lacking snow cover to threaten damage,” according to a forecast from Commodity Weather Group.

Also, the U.S. Climate Prediction Center was forecasting above-average precipitation in the region for April through June.

Chicago Board of Trade May soft red winter wheat futures settled up 1/2 cent at $4.63 a bushel (all figures US$).

CBOT May soybeans were 1/4 cent lower at $8.97-1/2 a bushel, and CBOT May corn slipped 1-1/4 cents to $3.67 a bushel.

For the week, soybeans rose 0.1 per cent, their third straight weekly gain, and corn futures were up 0.5 per cent.

The soybean market has already attracted extra demand as prices for Brazilian supplies have been boosted by a strengthening real.

In other export news, India canceled a tender to import 240,000 tonnes of corn, hoping for a bigger-than-expected local summer harvest and following uncertainty over the availability of non-genetically modified corn, trade and government sources said.

But the country may import wheat for the first time in a decade as persistent rain and hailstorms could cut India’s wheat crop by at least 14 per cent, an industry body said on Friday.

U.S. wheat, however, would face tough competition for any new business due to plentiful supplies from Europe and the Black Sea region.

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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