U.S. grains: Wheat futures plunge to contract lows

CBOT May 2019 wheat, with MGEX May 2019 wheat in orange. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures sank 2.7 per cent to their lowest since January 2018 on Monday, pressured by plentiful stocks that were providing overseas buyers with multiple options for supplies when looking for export deals.

The weakness in wheat weighed on corn, which notched its fourth straight day of declines and hit its lowest since Nov. 27.

Soybeans also were lower as dissipating hopes for a trade deal between the U.S. and China outweighed any positive reaction from the announcement of a fresh U.S. soybean sale to China, the world’s largest buyer of the oilseed.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders on Monday said a date for a trade summit between President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping has not been set and negotiations are ongoing.

“I think the trade has just given up that it is going to happen anytime soon,” said Bill Gentry, managing director of agriculture consulting at Risk Management Commodities.

Chicago Board of Trade May soft red winter wheat futures settled down 11 cents at $4.28-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$). All traded contract months for soft red winter wheat, hard red winter wheat and spring wheat hit new lows during Monday’s session.

Bearish sentiment in wheat has been fanned by concern that export demand is lagging despite increasingly competitive U.S. prices and early prospects for large harvests in Europe and Russia this year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said weekly export inspections of wheat totaled 592,001 tonnes in the week ended March 7, in line with analysts’ forecasts.

CBOT May corn futures were down 2-1/4 cents at $3.62 a bushel.

“Corn tried to bounce overnight, as its world balance sheet grew a bit tighter, but it’s fighting a significant downdraft from the rest of the grain sector,” Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at INTL FCStone, said in a note to clients.

CBOT May soybeans were 5-3/4 cents lower at $8.90 a bushel. The most-active soybean contract hit its lowest on a continuous basis since Dec. 28.

USDA said that private exporters reported the sale of 968,000 tonnes of soybeans for delivery to China during the 2018-19 marketing year.

The deal follows the announcement of a 664,000-tonne purchase on Friday but totals have fallen well short of the 10 million tonnes that U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said China had promised to buy as part of trade negotiations.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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