U.S. grains: Wheat extends skid on poor U.S. export demand; corn, soy firm

Chicago | Reuters – U.S. wheat futures dropped for the fifth consecutive session on Friday, touching a one-month low on sluggish export demand for U.S. wheat despite tightening global supplies.

Corn and soybean futures stabilized after sharp declines this week tied to expectations of bumper harvests in the U.S. Midwest, analysts said.

Chicago Board of Trade December wheat settled down 5-1/4 cents at $5.36-1/2 per bushel after dipping to $5.35, its lowest since July 25. CBOT December corn ended up 1-3/4 cents at $3.62-3/4 a bushel and November soybeans rose 1-1/4 cents at $8.55-1/4.

“Wheat is being weakened by disappointing U.S. exports,” said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager with INTL FCStone.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday reported export sales of U.S. wheat in the week to Aug. 16 of 239,800 tonnes, a six-week low that fell below trade forecasts.

“There is still a great deal of uncertainty about how much wheat Europe is going to be able to export … Wheat will eventually bounce, but probably we are going to have to wait until we get closer to planting (in) the fall. Producers are going to need some incentive,” said Dewey Strickler, president of Ag Watch Market Advisors.

The slide in CBOT wheat came after three-year highs set in early August amid worries that poor weather in several wheat-exporting countries including Russia and west Europe could cut harvests.

“Despite the fear drought and other bad weather in rival exporters could push more export business to the United States, actual U.S. sales are still pretty sluggish,” Ammermann said.

Corn and soybean futures closed modestly higher but the benchmark contracts in both commodities posted weekly losses of about 4 percent each, following an annual four-day U.S. crop tour that found potential for large harvests.

The Pro Farmer Midwest Crop Tour projected above-average corn yields in six of the seven states its scouts surveyed, including top grower Iowa, along with Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Nebraska and South Dakota.

The tour projected a below-average corn yield for Minnesota.

“We had a pretty rough week. With the Pro Farmer tour pretty much confirming USDA yields, that has put a lot of pressure on the market,” Strickler said.

After the CBOT close, the editors of the Pro Farmer newsletter projected the U.S. 2018 soybean yield at 53.0 bushels per acre (bpa) and the corn yield at 177.3 bpa. The figures compare to the USDA’s latest forecasts for a soybean yield of 51.6 bpa and a corn yield of 178.4 bpa.

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