U.S. grains: Corn, soy sag under weight of harvest

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures neared contract lows on Friday and soybeans fell to the lowest levels in a week, pressured by active harvest progress in the heart of the Midwest crop belt, analysts said.

Wheat fell to a near two-month low on technical selling, extending losses in the last hour of trade.

The exception to the trend weaker was soyoil futures, which hit their highest in nearly a month on news the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency was backing down on proposed reforms to the country’s renewable fuel program.

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Chicago Board of Trade December corn settled down 4-1/2 cents at $3.44-1/2 per bushel after dipping to $3.44-1/4, its weakest since the Oct. 12 contract low of $3.42-1/2 (all figures US$).

CBOT November soybeans ended down 7-3/4 cents at $9.78-3/4 a bushel while December soyoil finished up 0.33 cent at 34.16 cents/lb. CBOT December wheat ended down 6-3/4 cents at $4.26 a bushel after hitting $4.25, its lowest since Aug. 29.

Corn was pressured by this week’s optimal weather for combines rolling in the Midwest. However, showers were expected to slow fieldwork in some areas this weekend.

“It’s been a good harvest week. Everyone is going like crazy until the rain starts,” said Brian Hoops, analyst with Midwest Market Solutions.

“The export business we had yesterday and this morning was certainly a supportive feature, but not enough to sustain an uptrending market when you have harvest going on,” Hoops said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said private exporters in the last day sold a total of 245,000 tonnes of U.S. corn to Spain and unknown destinations, along with 198,000 tonnes of soybeans to China.

USDA a day earlier had announced another 384,000 tonnes of soybeans sold to China.

CBOT soyoil climbed for a second straight session on expectations of demand for soy-based biodiesel fuel. The December contract pushed through its 50-day moving average and reached 34.47 cents a pound, its highest since Sept. 22, before paring gains.

The soyoil rally followed news that the EPA will keep volume mandates for renewable fuel — including corn-based ethanol and soy-based biodiesel — for next year at or above proposed levels, reversing a previous move to open the door to cuts.

CBOT wheat fell in what appeared to be technical trade amid a lack of fundamental news.

Additional pressure stemmed from a firmer dollar, which tends to make U.S. grains less attractive on the global market.

The dollar made its biggest daily gain in a month as progress on U.S. tax reforms raised prospects of a fiscal lift to the economy.

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

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