U.S. grains: Wheat posts steepest weekly decline in half a year

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat prices fell on Friday and posted their steepest weekly decline since late August as technical selling and competitive global supplies pressured prices.

Soybean and corn prices rose, rebounding from earlier losses, but gains were capped on concerns surrounding strong export competition.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade fell seven per cent for the week, the largest drop since late August.

On Friday, the May contract ended down 2-1/4 cents to $4.57-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). It earlier sank to $4.47-1/4 a bushel, a fresh contract low.

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Wheat has posted five days of consecutive losses as stiff global competition has fuelled worries about demand for U.S. supplies.

“Wheat continues to be the loss leader in an already fundamentally bearish market, seemingly trying to sink to levels that are competitive on the global export market, but unable to find that number,” said Arlan Suderman, INTL FCStone chief commodities economist.

Export competition, particularly from South America, has also weighed on soybean and corn futures.

However, May soybean futures rose 1-1/4 cents at $9.11-1/2 per bushel. The most-active contract posted a weekly increase of almost 0.14 per cent.

Corn fell almost 0.6 per cent for the week. The May contract rose 2-1/4 cents to $3.73 per bushel. It earlier dropped to a low of $3.66 a bushel, the weakest since Sept. 20.

Brazil’s soybean crop forecast was revised upward on Friday, along with the country’s second corn crop.

“We’ve got really powerful export competition moving ahead to the next six months here, assuming that these South American crops are realized,” said Brian Basting, an analyst with Advance Trading.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported on Friday the U.S. January soybean crush at 182.8 million bushels.

Investors continue to wait for developments in the U.S.-China trade dispute. Bloomberg reported on Thursday afternoon that a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to sign a final trade deal could happen as soon as mid-March.

However, U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he could walk away from a trade deal with China if it were not good enough, while his economic advisers touted “fantastic” progress toward an agreement.

Reporting for Reuters by Stephanie Kelly in Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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