U.S. grains: Corn futures ease as weak exports offset crop concerns

Chicago | Reuters – U.S. grain and soybean futures all ended the week lower, with corn futures falling for a third straight session on Friday, as traders reacted to sluggish U.S. export data and forecasts called for milder growing weather over the weekend.

But traders said they were starting to doubt that much of the U.S. Midwest would see rainfall in the coming days – precipitation needed by the pollinating corn plants.

“If we don’t see rain this weekend, I think you could see corn rally back on Monday,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa.

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Corn pressured wheat futures Friday while soybeans edged higher, before a meeting next week between negotiators from the United States and China as the countries seek to end their yearlong trade war.

Traders said they were closely watching news that China approved soybean imports from all parts of Russia and wheat imports from the Russian region of Kurgan.

The most-active corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) settled down 3 cents at $4.24-1/2 a bushel. The most-active CBOT soybean futures settled up 1-1/4 cents at $9.01 a bushel.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales of old-crop U.S. corn in the week to July 18 at 121,200 tonnes, down 59% from the prior four-week average.

Dealers’ market concerns over corn crop yields eased somewhat, as updated meteorological models showed more favorable weather forecast in the near term in several key U.S. growing regions, Allendale Inc wrote in a client note on Friday.

“Traders have removed enough weather-related risk premium for now though, which is allowing the market to stabilize,” said Karl Setzer, a commodity market risk analyst with AgriVisor LLC.

Still, threats to production remain as forecasts indicated very hot and dry weather could return to the U.S. Midwest in the next two weeks, particularly in parts of producing states Illinois, Iowa and Indiana, Commodity Weather Group said.

Dealers said the soybean market had derived support this week from hopes that a thaw in trade relations between the United States and top soybean buyer China could result from next week’s negotiations.

The most-active CBOT contract closed Friday down 3-1/2 cents to $4.96 a bushel. Wheat futures remained rangebound for much of the day.

Dealers said the wheat harvest in western Europe had made rapid progress this week although rains were seen slowing it over the weekend.

France should harvest between 38 million and 39 million tonnes of soft wheat this summer, with quality levels meeting export standards, grain exporter Soufflet said Friday.

Prices remained underpinned, however, by a downgraded crop outlook in top exporter Russia. SovEcon lowered its forecast for Russia’s wheat exports in the new 2019/20 marketing season by 6.2 million tonnes to 31.4 million tonnes.

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