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U.S. grains: Corn, soy, wheat end lower

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and soybean futures ticked lower on Monday, pressured by broad declines in commodity and equity markets as well as improving forecasts for South American crop weather, traders said.

Wheat followed the weaker trend.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) March corn futures settled down 1/2 cent at $3.79-3/4 per bushel (all figures US$). CBOT March soybeans ended down two cents at $9.23-1/4 a bushel and March wheat fell 1-1/4 cents at $5.18-3/4 a bushel.

Declines in crude oil and other markets weighed on agricultural futures. Global stock markets tumbled while oil posted its biggest one-day drop in a month on expectations of growing U.S. crude supply.

The Thomson Reuters CoreCommodity CRB Index, a basket of 19 commodities, fell about 1.8 per cent.

“The ags are falling under pressure from the sell-off in the broader markets today as traders worry that the China trade talks will not go well. Yet, losses are modest, due to thoughts China may make more ‘good-faith’ purchases,” INTL FCStone chief commodities economist Arlan Suderman said in a client note.

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said the United States expects to make significant progress this week in trade talks with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, who will later meet with President Donald Trump.

Chinese state-owned firms resumed purchases of U.S. soybeans in December as part of a negotiating truce, but confirmed deals have dried up this month, with a lack of export data during a partial U.S. government shutdown adding to uncertainty.

Weekly U.S. export inspections data added to bearish sentiment. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export inspections of U.S. soybeans in the latest week at 929,417 tonnes and corn inspections at 893,001 tonnes, both down from last week and below trade expectations.

USDA’s wheat inspections figure of 362,153 tonnes also fell below trade estimates.

Reminders of recent poor crop weather in Brazil lent underlying support to soybeans. Soy industry group Abiove lowered its estimate of Brazil’s soybean crop to 117.9 million tonnes, from 120.9 million in December.

However, some outlooks for improved crop weather hung over soy futures.

CBOT wheat declined for a third straight session, shrugging off forecasts for frigid U.S. temperatures this week that may threaten winter wheat. Analysts noted that snow cover should help protect dormant crops in most areas.

Traders are waiting to see when the USDA will restart daily and weekly publications of export sales.

USDA plans to release several key grain reports on Feb. 8 including quarterly U.S. grain stocks, winter wheat seedings and a final report on 2018 crop production, the department’s chief economist told Reuters via email on Monday.

— 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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