U.S. grains: Wheat hits highest since August

Soy firm, corn weak

wheat
(Photo courtesy Canada Beef Inc.)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures firmed on Thursday, with the most-active Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat contract hitting its highest in more than five months on signs of better-than-expected export demand.

Soybeans closed slightly higher as technical buyers pushing prices into positive territory late in the session while corn eased on profit taking.

Wheat, which notched its third straight day of gains, had traded lower during the overnight session but turned higher after a U.S. Agriculture Department report showed that weekly export sales topped expectations.

CBOT soft red winter wheat for March delivery settled up 3/4 cent at $4.34-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$). Prices peaked at $4.37-3/4, the highest for the most-active contract since Aug. 22, during the session.

USDA said weekly old-crop export sales of wheat totalled 451,200 tonnes. Analysts’ forecasts for weekly old-crop export sales wheat ranged from 250,000 to 450,000 tonnes. New-crop wheat export sales were 59,000 tonnes, in line with market expectations.

But the gains in wheat were capped by plentiful global supplies as well as expectations that winter weather in the northern hemisphere will do little damage to the dormant crop.

“Four years of surpluses still exert pressure on wheat prices. And all the signs have so far pointed to another high global wheat harvest in 2017/18,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note.

CBOT March corn was 3/4 cent lower at $3.67-1/2 a bushel. Corn fluctuated between positive and negative territory, with the March contract failed to hold support above its 200-day moving average, a key technical point it has not closed above since June 23.

Traders also said the corn market felt toppy after rallying 2.3 per cent on Wednesday.

CBOT March soybeans ended up 1/2 cent at $10.37-1/4 a bushel.

Strength in soybeans, which climbed to a six-month high last month, was limited by expectations of a bumper crop in South America. Traders said crop weather was improves in Argentina, while harvesting in Brazil is on track for a record crop of more than 100 million tonnes.

— 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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