U.S. grains: Corn, soy end lower on technical selling

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures fell more than one per cent on Thursday on a rising estimate of Argentina’s crop and chart-based selling, analysts said, while soybeans and wheat also declined.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) March corn settled down 4-3/4 cents at $3.76-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$). March soybeans ended down 5-3/4 cents at $9.15-1/4 a bushel and March wheat finished down 1/4 cent at $5.16-1/2 a bushel.

Corn was pressured in part by the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange raising its estimate of Argentina’s corn crop to 45 million tonnes, from 43 million previously, citing better-than-expected yields.

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The exchange kept its Argentine soybean crop estimate unchanged at 53 million tonnes, despite weeks of heavy rains that had raised concerns about the oilseed crop.

Corn was also seen by some as less vulnerable to damage.

“All that water sitting there, it probably helps soil moisture. So I think that’s why you are seeing that corn estimate go up,” Matt Connelly, analyst at the Hightower Report in Chicago.

Technical selling also pressured corn. The March contract turned lower after failing to top Wednesday’s one-week high of $3.81-1/2.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported export sales of U.S. corn in the week to Dec. 20 at 1.75 million tonnes (old- and new-crop years combined), above trade expectations for 1.05 million to 1.6 million tonnes.

The export sales release was USDA’s first since a month-long partial government shutdown suspended the reports.

CBOT soybeans closed lower as the market awaited developments from U.S. trade talks with China, the world’s top soy importer.

President Donald Trump said he will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping soon to try to seal a comprehensive trade deal as the top U.S. trade negotiator reported “substantial progress” in two days of high-level talks.

CBOT wheat futures followed corn and soybeans lower, but pared losses toward the close of the last trading session of the month.

Wheat drew underlying support from worries about dry weather in Australia. Its western coast is facing hot, dry weather over the next three months, the country’s meteorology bureau said, denting the outlook for wheat production in the world’s fourth-largest exporter.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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