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U.S. grains: Soy, corn retreat from highs on improving weather

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean and corn futures fell on Tuesday on improving harvest weather in the Midwest crop belt and some profit-taking a day after both commodities neared two-month highs, traders said.

Wheat followed the weak trend after a choppy session.

Chicago Board of Trade November soybeans settled down 6-3/4 cents at $8.84-3/4 per bushel and December corn ended down three cents at $3.75-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). CBOT December wheat fell 1-1/2 cents to $5.23-1/2 a bushel.

“Weather forecasts for the Midwest are looking drier. The U.S. soybean harvest has been slow and is certainly behind the five-year average, but it is still too early to write it off,” said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager with INTL FCStone.

Following widespread storms last week that slowed fieldwork, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) late Monday said the U.S. soybean harvest was 38 per cent complete, lagging the five-year average of 53 per cent and barely up from 32 per cent in the previous week.

The corn harvest was 39 per cent complete, still ahead of the five-year average of 35 per cent.

USDA rated 66 per cent of the soybean crop as good to excellent, down from 68 per cent the previous week, while corn condition ratings were unchanged.

“We are showing some damage from the last two weeks,” said Ted Seifried, chief agriculture market strategist for brokerage Zaner Group in Chicago.

However, the November soybean and December corn contracts retreated after failing to match Monday’s highs, triggering profit-taking.

“A lot of it is technical in nature. Yesterday November soybeans got to the 100-day (moving average) for the first time since June, and now we are pulling back. It’s an obvious place for us to see a pullback,” Seifried said.

CBOT wheat finished modestly lower, pressured by declines in soy and corn. December wheat retreated after hitting its highest in around two weeks on speculation that tightening global supplies will bring more export business to the U.S.

U.S. wheat exports look set for a strong second half of the 2018-19 season, the chairman of the USDA’s World Agricultural Outlook Board said.

“The Russian export pace will slow, either priced out (of export markets) or because of a change in policy, so our (U.S.) exports will be weighted to the second half of the year,” the World Agricultural Outlook Board’s Seth Meyer said on the sidelines of a grains conference in London.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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