U.S. grains: Wheat, corn close higher on bargain buying after dips

U.S. wheat futures rose on Thursday as recent declines spurred interest from bargain hunters as well as buyers on the export market, traders said.

Corn edged higher, with the market finding some technical support after two straight days of losses erased two per cent of value. A better-than-expected export sales report added strength but gains were limited due to lingering concerns about Chinese cancellations of U.S. shipments.

U.S. soybean futures were mixed, with nearby contracts dropping on profit taking after the front-month contract hit a 3-1/2-week high. New crop contracts ended higher as traders unwound bull spreads built up since the start of the year.

Chicago Board of Trade March soft red winter wheat settled up five cents at $5.72-3/4 a bushel (all figures US$). Prices found technical support from an early drop at the low end of its 20-day Bollinger range.

MGEX March spring wheat gained 10 cents, or 1.6 per cent, to close at $6.24 a bushel, after opening at a contract low. In percentage terms, it was the biggest gain for spring wheat in a month.

Kansas City hard red winter wheat for March delivery rose nine cents to $6.29-1/2 a bushel.

Egypt’s GASC, the world’s top buyer of wheat, said it bought 295,000 tonnes of wheat for shipment in February, including 60,000 tonnes of U.S. soft red winter wheat.

Chicago Board of Trade corn for March delivery settled up 2-1/4 cents at $4.28 a bushel.

“When we got to that $4.25 and held, we got a little bounce,” said Jason Britt, president of Central States Commodities. “We have found a place to stabilize and bounce back from.”

Export sales of corn were a better-than-expected 821,000 tonnes, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Thursday morning. USDA also confirmed 169,800 tonnes of net sales cancellations by China in the latest week, adding to a recent string of cancellations stemming from the discovery of an unapproved strain of genetically modified corn.

CBOT soybeans for March delivery fell three cents to $13.15 a bushel. Prices peaked at $13.30-1/2 a bushel, the highest since Dec. 23, early in the session.

Some farmer sales of soybeans during the five-session rally also weighed on prices on Thursday but continued strong export demand limited declines.

Soybean export sales were 701,500 tonnes in the latest reporting week, up from a marketing year low 155,500 tonnes a week ago. Separately, USDA also said that private exporters reported the sale of 465,500 tonnes of soybeans to China.

— Mark Weinraub reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Colin Packham in Sydney and Nigel Hunt in London.

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