U.S. grains: Wheat leads grains lower on U.S. rains

Hard white winter wheat growing in North Carolina in 2010. (Dave Marshall photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures fell on Monday as rains and mild temperatures in key growing areas of the U.S. Midwest and Plains bolstered expectations for harvest, traders said.

The most-actively traded Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat contract sank two per cent and hit a 10-day low. K.C. hard red winter wheat, which tracks the crop grown in the U.S. Plains, fell 2.6 per cent to its lowest since March 31.

“Wheat fell precipitously early and often, hit by chart selling and good rains for the HRW (hard red winter wheat) areas,” Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures at ED+F Man Capital said in a note to clients.

Soybean and corn futures also fell, but the declines were limited amid concerns that the rains that weighed on wheat would slow seeding of crops this spring.

“Weather models agree on above-normal precip(itation) for the northern half of the U.S. in the 10- to 15-day forecast, which could delay planting,” Kevin Stockard, market analyst at CHS Hedging, said in a note to clients.

CBOT May soft red winter wheat settled down 8-3/4 cents at $4.21 a bushel (all figures US$). CBOT May corn futures were 4-1/2 cents lower at $3.66-1/2 a bushel and CBOT May soybeans dropped 2-1/4 cents to close at $9.53-1/4 a bushel.

Soybeans had traded higher early in the session but weakened after a monthly report showed that processors crushed fewer soybeans than expected during March.

The National Oilseed Processors Association said that its members crushed 153.06 million bushels during March, up from 142.792 million bushels in February. A year ago, the March crush totalled 156.69 million bushels. Analysts had expected a March crush of 156.728 million bushels, based on an average of estimates in a Reuters survey.

Profit-taking added pressure to corn, which hit a five-week high on Thursday.

Large speculators increased their short position in CBOT corn futures in the week to April 11, regulatory data released on Friday showed.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s weekly commitment of traders report also showed that noncommercial traders, a category including hedge funds, increased their short position in CBOT wheat and increased their net-short position in soybeans.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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