U.S. wheat slips to post second weekly loss

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures fell nearly two per cent on Friday on profit-taking, after prices rose the previous session amid concerns about yield losses due to freezes in the U.S. Plains hard red winter wheat region.

“There was some profit-taking after yesterday’s pop, a lot of people just wanted to put some money in the bank before the weekend,” said Sterling Smith, market specialist for Citigroup.

Corn also sagged on profit-taking but soybeans rose for the second straight day on soaring cash markets, tight soy stocks and slow farmer selling.

Cash basis bids for soybeans jumped to seasonal records at U.S. Midwest processors on Friday as demand for the oilseed remained strong, dealers said. A small spike in country sales weighed on the basis at a few locations, they said.

“The strong cash beans, due to the incredible tight supply of old-crop soybeans, is leading the complex up. The basis continues to soar in the western Corn Belt. Processors can’t process or deliver meal until they get beans,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities, Des Moines, Iowa.

“Farmers are getting busy with spring fieldwork and aren’t selling, so that leaves the commercials as a source and they aren’t selling either,” he said.

CBOT May wheat was down 12-1/2 cents per bushel at $6.88-3/4 per bushel, May corn was down 1-1/4 at $6.44 and soybeans for May delivery were up 7-1/4 at $14.30-3/4 (all figures US$).

“There’s hardly any fresh trigger other than market participants’ squaring off their positions after last night’s buoyancy,” said Jonathan Barratt, chief executive of BarrattBulletin, a Sydney-based commodities research firm.

Wheat was setting back after soaring on Thursday on a series of late April freezes in the U.S. that likely harmed some of the hard red winter wheat grown in the U.S. Plains states.

Next week’s annual Wheat Quality Council tour of wheat fields will shed more light on weather conditions and their impact on wheat output.

Outlooks for improved U.S. corn planting weather put some pressure on corn futures. Wet weather has slowed corn seedings, threatening to trim 2013 corn production.

Warmer and drier weather over the weekend into early next week will boost U.S. corn seedings that have fallen behind average pace due to excessive wet and cold weather, an agricultural meteorologist said on Friday.

“Early next week looks okay then showers begin late on Tuesday and likely linger into the weekend, so there won’t be a lot of planting beyond Tuesday,” said John Dee, meteorologist for Global Weather Monitoring.

Dee said from 0.5 to one inch of rain is likely beginning mid-week in close to 100 per cent of the Midwest.

Temperatures will be in the 70s F and low 80s by the weekend and early in the week, although they will drop below normal later in the week.

Dry weather will remain a concern in the far southwest portion of the U.S. Plains hard red winter wheat region, Dee said.

Both corn and soybeans rose in the previous session, but gains have been trimmed since then due to weak export sales reported by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

USDA’s report pegged last week’s corn sales at a four-week low, net soybean sales at a two-week low and net wheat sales at an 11-week low.

“U.S. exports are weak across the board, but we hear further talk of more Chinese interest,” FCStone wrote in a daily note.

USDA on Thursday said 540,000 tonnes of U.S. corn were sold to China and an unknown destination.

Also, China, the world’s biggest buyer of soybeans, made its first old-crop soybean cancellation in 10 weeks and bought its largest new-crop volume in a month, according to USDA.

— Sam Nelson covers ag commodity markets for Reuters in Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Ivana Sekularac in Amsterdam, Mayank Bhardwaj in New Delhi and Michael Hirtzer in Chicago.

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