U.S. grains: Corn, soybeans, wheat end modestly lower

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and soybean futures closed fractionally lower Tuesday on technical selling, bucking strength in other commodity markets, including crude oil.

Wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade also fell, with the spot December contract hitting a four-week low as traders positioned for monthly U.S. government reports due Thursday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is scheduled to release its October supply/demand reports, including updated estimates of U.S. and global crop production.

CBOT November soybeans ended down 3/4 cent at $9.66 a bushel (all figures US$). December corn ended down 1/4 cent at $3.49-1/4 a bushel and December wheat finished down 3/4 cent at $4.35-1/4 after dipping to $4.34, its lowest since Sept. 12.

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All three commodities closed lower after trading higher during the session.

Soybeans got a boost after Brazilian statistics agency Conab forecast the country’s 2017-18 soybean crop at between 106 million and 108.2 million tonnes, down from the 2016-17 crop of 114 million tonnes.

After the Conab news, CBOT November soybeans hit a session high of $9.75-3/4, near the contract’s 200-day moving average, but encountered technical resistance at that level.

“Profit-taking at the 200-day moving average for the lead November contract became a factor ahead of Thursday’s USDA crop report,” INTL FCStone chief commodities economist Arlan Suderman wrote in a note to clients.

Corn and wheat followed soybeans back down. USDA reported export inspections of U.S. soybeans in the latest week at more than 1.4 million tonnes, topping a range of trade estimates. But inspections of corn and wheat fell below expectations, reflecting sluggish export demand for both grains.

Underscoring strong wheat export competition suppliers in the Black Sea region, Egypt’s state buyer said it bought 170,000 tonnes of Russian wheat in an international purchasing tender. No U.S. wheat was offered.

After the CBOT close, USDA said the U.S. soybean harvest was 36 per cent complete, behind the five-year average of 43 per cent and an average of trade expectations for 38 per cent.

The corn harvest was 22 per cent complete, compared with the five-year average of 37 per cent and the average trade estimate of 27 per cent. In Iowa, the top U.S. corn producer, the corn harvest was eight per cent done, lagging the state’s five-year average of 28 per cent.

“Unfortunately, very little harvest progress was made due to the wet weather last week,” Mike Naig, Iowa’s deputy agriculture secretary, said in a statement.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago; additional reporting by Nigel Hunt in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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