U.S. grains: Wheat firms as rain slows harvest

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures rose 2.5 per cent on Monday, closing in positive territory for the sixth time in seven sessions on support from wet weather that has been delaying harvest in key U.S. growing areas, traders said.

The concerns about the slow harvest, which was most pronounced in areas east of the Mississippi River, have led to a round of speculative short covering in wheat. The front-month Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat contract hit its highest level since Jan. 7.

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“The realization we’re coming up on the July 4 holiday, and no combines are rolling south (in the southern Midwest soft red winter wheat belt), has really added some extra upward pressure on the market,” said Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics and Consulting.

Corn futures closed mostly lower, although the new-crop December contract managed to settle up 1/2 cent (all figures US$). Soybeans were mixed, with the front-month contract edging slightly higher while deferred contracts eased.

Traders noted position squaring ahead of the U.S. Agriculture Department’s closely watched quarterly stocks and acreage reports.

“It is all about the huge reports coming out,” EFG Group analyst Tom Fritz said. “I know some guys are long and they asked if they should stay long here. I said, ‘Absolutely not — you take some dough here.'”

CBOT July soft red winter wheat ended 18-1/4 cents higher at $5.80-1/2 a bushel. The front-month wheat contract was on track to rise 22 percent during June, which would be its best month since December 2010.

CBOT July corn settled down 1-3/4 cents at $3.83-1/4 a bushel. CBOT corn has risen 9.1 per cent during June, on track to snap a string of three straight losing months.

CBOT July soybeans were up 1/2 cent at $10.02-1/2 a bushel. The front-month contract has risen 7.4 per cent this month.

All three commodities closed well below their session highs. Traders said that heavy sales on the cash market weakened basis levels and pressured futures prices after the markets traded sharply higher during the overnight session.

Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago, Colin Packham in Sydney and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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