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GRAINS-Corn hits contract lows on sluggish exports, mild U.S. weather

Julie Ingwersen

(New throughout; updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline, changes dateline from previous PARIS/SINGAPORE) CHICAGO, Sept 6 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures fell to life-of-contract lows on Friday, pressured by disappointing weekly U.S. export data and forecasts for benign weather in the heart of the Midwest crop belt, analysts said. Wheat futures followed corn lower and soybeans turned down, retreating from early advances. As of 1:04 p.m. CDT (1804 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade December corn was down 3 cents at $3.55-3/4 per bushel after hitting a contract low at $3.53. CBOT December wheat was down 3-1/4 cents at $4.63 a bushel and November soybeans were down 3 cents at $8.58-1/2 a bushel. Corn fell after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales of U.S. corn in the latest week at 250,800 tonnes (old and new crop years combined), below a range of trade expectations for 500,000 to 900,000 tonnes.

Also, forecasts called for beneficial rains next week in portions of the Corn Belt, with no sign of a cold spell that could shorten the growing season for this year's late-maturing corn and soy crops. "The U.S. weather is non-threatening. We don't look for any frost or freezes by the end of the month," said Terry Reilly, senior analyst with Futures International in Chicago. Private analytics firm IEG Vantage, formerly known as Informa Economics IEG, raised its forecast of the average U.S. 2019 corn yield to 169.6 bushels per acre (bpa), from 167.8 a month ago. The figures followed crop estimates released Wednesday by commodity brokerage INTL FCStone, which raised its U.S. corn yield estimate to 168.4 bpa, from 167.4 last month. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is scheduled to release updated monthly U.S. and world crop production estimates on Sept. 12. For soybeans, IEG slightly raised its U.S. yield forecast to 48.4 bpa, from 48.2 last month, and INTL FCStone on Wednesday raised its soy yield forecast to 48.3 bpa, from 47.2 previously. Soybean futures drew support from the USDA reporting weekly soybean export sales at 857,900 tonnes (old and new crop years combined), above trade expectations. But soy futures sagged on technical selling and outlooks for mild weather that should bolster production prospects. "The key fundamental factor is the U.S. weather which has put pressure on prices," said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist, National Australia Bank. CBOT wheat fell on profit-taking following a two-session rally, but stayed above three-month lows set this week. Similarly, front-month K.C. hard red winter wheat and MGEX spring wheat declined but held above multi-year lows established on Tuesday. Ample global wheat stocks hung over the markets, capping rallies. Traders awaited the results of a wheat tender called by Saudi Arabia, which has changed its terms to enable Black Sea origins such as Russian wheat to be offered.

CBOT prices as of 1:08 p.m. CDT (1808 GMT):

Net Pct Volume

Last change change

CBOT wheat WZ9 462.25 -4.00 -0.9 29481CBOT corn CZ9 354.75 -4.00 -1.1 139287CBOT soybeans SX9 857.50 -4.00 -0.5 72310CBOT soymeal SMZ9 293.10 -1.40 -0.5 36173CBOT soyoil BOZ9 28.58 -0.06 -0.2 47627

NOTE: CBOT December wheat and corn and November soybeans shown in cents per bushel, December soymeal in dollars per short ton and December soyoil in cents per lb.

(Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Andrea Ricci)