GRAINS-Wheat falls to 6-month low on slow exports, technicals
* U.S. wheat, corn prices sag in holiday-thinned trade
* News lacking after Christmas holiday; European mkts closed
* Soy follows grains lower despite fresh U.S. export sales
CHICAGO, Dec 26 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures fell 2 percent and hit a six-month low on Wednesday in light technical trading, pressured by a lack of export demand, traders said. Corn and soybeans also sagged in holiday-thinned volume. Grain markets remained closed in Europe. At the Chicago Board of Trade as of 11:07 a.m. CST (1707 GMT), March wheat was down 16-1/4 cents, or 2.1 percent, at $7.77-1/2 per bushel after dipping to $7.76-1/4, its lowest level since June 29. CBOT March corn fell 9-1/4 cents to $6.95 a bushel and most-active March soybeans were down 19 cents at $14.16-3/4 a bushel. Wheat posted the biggest losses on a percentage basis. Early selling accelerated as the March contract dropped below last week's low of $7.82-1/2. "Right now the path of least resistance is lower, until we find someone who wants to start buying wheat and extending coverage," said Shawn McCambridge, a grains analyst with Jefferies Bache in Chicago. U.S. soft red winter wheat, the type traded at the CBOT, has become the cheapest milling wheat in the world, but the absence of confirmed, significant export sales has kept a lid on futures prices. "Until we start to show there is some actual business out there, we will continue to see pressure," McCambridge said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported the amount of wheat inspected for export in the latest week at 15.128 million bushels, within a range of trade estimates for 12 million to 17 million. USDA showed corn export inspections at 13.475 million bushels, within the range of estimates for 9 million to 14 million. Traders were monitoring crop weather in the southern U.S. Plains hard red winter wheat region, where cold temperatures this week raised the threat of crop damage from winterkill. Temperatures in northwest Kansas were in the single digits Fahrenheit (minus 12 to minus 17 Celsius) on Wednesday morning. The Commodity Weather Group reported sub-zero temperatures from parts of Colorado into the northern Plains in the past two days, but said protective snowpack would limit any crop damage. However, CWG said in a daily note to clients, "a few spots in Colorado and western Kansas may incur patchy losses due to thinner snow cover."
CORN, SOYBEANS FOLLOW WHEAT LOWER Corn and soybeans sagged in sympathy with the declines in wheat. But the March corn contract remained above last week's low of $6.87-1/2, the lowest spot corn price since early July. CBOT March soybeans turned lower after failing to hold support above the contract's 200-day average at $14.40. Spillover weakness from grains offset support in soybeans from fresh export sales. The USDA on Wednesday confirmed sales of 115,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China and another 108,000 tonnes to unknown destinations, both for delivery in 2012/13.
USDA reported weekly export inspections of U.S. soybeans at 44.486 million bushels, above a range of trade estimates for 37 million to 42 million.
Prices at 11:13 a.m. CST (1713 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG CBOT corn 693.75 -10.50 -1.5% 7.3% CBOT soy 1422.25 -17.50 -1.2% 18.7% CBOT meal 428.70 -6.10 -1.4% 38.6% CBOT soyoil 48.43 -0.51 -1.0% -7.0% CBOT wheat 776.50 -17.25 -2.2% 19.0% CBOT rice 1524.50 -10.00 -0.7% 4.4% EU wheat NA NA NA NAUS crude 90.96 2.35 2.7% -8.0% Dow Jones 13,095 -44 -0.3% 7.2% Gold 1660.20 1.91 0.1% 6.2% Euro/dollar 1.3231 0.0049 0.4% 2.2% Dollar Index 79.5970 -0.0450 -0.1% -0.7% Baltic Freight 699 -1 -0.1% -59.8%
(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; editing by Jim Marshall)