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U.S. grains: Wheat jumps on global weather worries, corn follows

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. wheat futures rose more than one per cent on Thursday, lifted by worries that U.S. rains could reduce grain quality and that dry conditions in Russia and Canada would stress crops.

Chicago Board of Trade corn futures also jumped, rising in sympathy with wheat, while soybeans were nearly unchanged, anchored by huge global stockpiles as Brazilian analyst Agroconsult raised its estimate for the current harvest there to a new record of 96.1 million tonnes.

“It’s all about the wheat concerns today — what’s going on in the hard red winter areas,” EFG Group analyst Tom Fritz said of the southern U.S. Plans wheat belt.

Heavy rains that have drastically offset a multiyear drought in the Plains also caused localized flooding and threatened to reduce yields in Texas and Oklahoma, crop experts said.

K.C. wheat futures for July delivery climbed to a one-month high of $5.64 per bushel (all figures US$). Most-active CBOT July wheat settled up nine cents at $5.22, paring gains after earlier failing to surpass their own one-month peak of $5.30-1/4 reached on Monday.

CBOT July corn gained 4-1/2 cents to $3.64-1/2 and CBOT July soybeans were down 2-3/4 cents at $9.38-1/2.

Exporters in South America were offering cheaper corn and soybeans than the U.S. into many global destinations.

Agroconsult at midmorning also lifted its estimate for the Brazilian corn harvest, to 82.1 million tonnes, up from 79.4 million tonnes in March.

“We knew the (Brazilian) bean crop was big. The bottom line is the world is flush with beans and the world is flush with corn, too,” Fritz said.

Soybeans were holding just above their seven-month lows reached on Wednesday, while corn futures remained in the narrow range that defined the trade for about three weeks.

Some investors were evening their books ahead of the three-day weekend in observance of the U.S. Memorial Day holiday on Monday.

“Weather forecasters continue to expect more rain, and so few opportunities for saturated soils to dry, over the next week or so in U.S. hard red winter wheat regions,” Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural research at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said in a note to clients.

“The trade will consequently continue to worry about wheat availability — and so sell only reluctantly — despite inventories being comfortable.”

Michael Hirtzer reports on grain markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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