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U.S. grains: Wheat, corn extend winning streaks

Slow harvest limits drop in soybeans

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. wheat and corn futures rose for the fifth straight day on Tuesday, with short-covering and technical buying in focus as investors scrambled to stake out positions ahead of a key government report, traders said.

Soybeans closed lower, pressured by profit-taking after posting early gains and some commercial hedging as farmers booked sales when prices hit their peaks.

Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat posted the biggest gains, surging three per cent on a wave of follow-through buying from a firm close on Monday.

“Wheat, technically, had a nice close yesterday,” said Ted Seifried, vice-president and chief market strategist at Zaner Ag Hedge in Chicago. “We ended up closing above the 20-day moving average for the first time since Aug. 29.”

Chicago Board of Trade wheat for December delivery was up 14-3/4 cents at $5.06-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). The front-month contract has risen 6.1 per cent during the five-session rally, its longest since July.

“The wheat market is trading higher as the technical picture remains friendly along with good demand and strong cash markets,” INTL FCStone said in a research note to clients. “The entire complex is trying to carve out a rounding bottom at current levels as technicals have given a buy signal.”

The strength in wheat lent support to corn, which has risen 6.5 per cent during its streak of positive closes.

CBOT December corn was eight cents higher at $3.40-1/2 a bushel. CBOT November soybeans settled 1-1/2 cents lower at $9.40-3/4 a bushel.

“Beans rallied again early in the session off of a weaker dollar and more chart short covering, but fell back late in the day, victim of harvest hedge selling on the rally,” Charlie Sernatinger, analyst with ED+F Man Capital, said in a note to clients.

Declines in soybeans were kept in check by wet fields that have slowed the pace of harvesting across the Midwest during the past few days.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday afternoon that 20 per cent of the soybean crop had been harvested as of Oct. 5, up from the 10 per cent completed last week but 15 percentage points behind the five-year average. Analysts had expected the crop to be 23 per cent complete.

The agency pegged the corn harvest at 17 percent complete, up from 12 per cent the week before, but still lower than market expectations of 20 per cent.

USDA will release its monthly supply and demand estimates, as well as crop production forecasts on Friday. Volatile trade was expected in anticipation of the closely watched report as investors try to cover short positions they built up when grain and oilseed prices fell to multi-year lows in recent weeks.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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