U.S. grains: Wheat sags on sluggish export demand

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures fell more than one per cent on Thursday on reminders of ample world supplies and strong competition for export business, along with some forecasts for much-needed rains next week in the U.S. Plains, analysts said.

Soybean futures rose on export demand for U.S. supplies, and corn ended modestly higher.

Chicago Board of Trade May wheat settled down 6-1/4 cents at $4.81 per bushel while K.C. May hard red winter wheat was down 9-1/4 cents at $5.07-1/2 (all figures US$).

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CBOT May soybeans ended up 13 cents at $10.60-3/4 a bushel and May corn rose 1-3/4 cents at $3.88-3/4 a bushel.

Wheat fell as traders focused on plentiful global stockpiles and sluggish demand for U.S. supplies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales of U.S. wheat in the latest week at 188,700 tonnes (old- and new-crop years combined), below trade expectations.

USDA on Tuesday raised its forecast of world wheat stocks at the end of the 2017-18 marketing year to 271.2 million tonnes, an all-time high.

Additional pressure stemmed from forecasting models showing increased chances of rain late next week in the drought-hit southern Plains winter wheat belt.

“The models definitely shifted wetter today versus where they have been the last couple days. But we are still very low confidence on that,” said Joel Widenor, meteorologist with the Commodity Weather Group.

CBOT soybeans climbed on strong weekly U.S. export sales along with news this week that Argentina, typically the No. 3 soybean producer, was buying U.S. and Brazilian soybeans after drought slashed Argentina’s crop.

Argentina bought 120,000 tonnes of soybeans from Brazil last week, an analyst at trading and consultancy firm Labhoro told Reuters.

The Rosario grains exchange on Wednesday cut its estimate of the country’s soy crop to 37 million tonnes, from 40 million previously.

USDA reported export sales of U.S. soybeans in the week to April 5 at 2,464,500 tonnes (old- and new-crop years combined), topping a range of trade expectations. Sales of old-crop soybeans topped 1.5 million tonnes, the most in five weeks.

Traders were monitoring a blizzard expected in South Dakota and Nebraska on Friday that could delay U.S. plantings of corn and spring wheat, potentially prompting farmers to switch more acres to soybeans.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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