U.S. grains: Wheat posts first weekly loss since September

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures dropped for the fourth day in a row on Friday as U.S. exporters struggled to compete in an export market laden with supplies from around the globe, traders said.

Corn prices also fell, with investors staking out positions ahead of a U.S. Agriculture Department report that was expected to boost production estimates from the ongoing harvest in the Midwest.

But soybeans rose on a late round of buying and strong export demand. The strong demand also supported cash market values for soy.

Wheat futures shed 3.3 per cent this week, snapping a streak of five straight weekly gains.

“Weak (wheat) exports continue to dog rally attempts, with buyers in no mood to chase the market higher,” Bryce Knorr, senior editor of Farm Futures magazine, said in a note. “Until one of the world’s growing regions suffers a disaster there’s little reason for prices to rally much.”

CBOT soft red winter wheat for December delivery ended down 5-3/4 cents at $5.14-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$). The contract bounced off its lows after finding support at its 50-day moving average.

“U.S. wheat exports remain no more than routine, and with a firmer dollar, this is deemed negative to U.S. exports and future price,” David Sheppard, managing director of U.K. merchant Gleadell, said in a market note.

Iraq’s state grains board bought 200,000 tonnes of hard wheat from Canada and Australia in a tender, European traders said on Friday. Traders said earlier in the week that U.S. wheat was priced about $20 a tonne higher than Canada’s offer.

CBOT January soybeans gained 8-3/4 cents to close at $10.36-3/4 a bushel, while December corn dropped 3-3/4 cents to $3.67-1/2 a bushel.

Robust demand from overseas buyers, coupled with slow country movement as farmers chose to store newly harvested crops rather than book new sales to processors, supported the gains in soybeans.

“Our weekly (soy) export shipments this week were huge,” said Mark Schultz, analyst at Northstar Commodity Investment Co. in Minneapolis. “We better have a pretty good crop or else things are going to start getting tight once again.”

For the week, soybeans lost one per cent, while corn was 2.5 per cent lower.

Good weather for harvest added weight to the corn market, with forecasts showing conditions that would allow farmers to catch up to their typical schedule.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent reporting on grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Nigel Hunt in London.

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