U.S. grains: Corn up on export demand, technical bounce

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures rose about one per cent Wednesday on fresh export demand and bargain-buying after the spot December contract dipped to a contract low, traders said.

Wheat futures firmed, stabilizing after a series of contract lows in recent days, while soybeans ended fractionally lower after a choppy session.

Most-active March corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade settled up 3-3/4 cents at $3.53-1/2 per bushel (all figures US$). CBOT March wheat ended up 5-1/2 cents at $4.34-3/4 a bushel and January soybeans fell 1/2 cent at $9.92-1/2 a bushel.

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Corn firmed on export business that emerged as front-month December slipped to life-of-contract lows at mid-month and again this week, hitting $3.35-1/2 in early moves on Wednesday.

China has bought around 10 to 12 cargoes of mainly U.S. corn in the past month, three trade sources said, and is set to step up purchases as a record spread between domestic and international prices encourages buyers to seek out cheap imports.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed Wednesday that private exporters sold 101,600 tonnes of U.S. corn to unknown destinations for delivery in the 2017-18 marketing year begun Sept. 1.

“The sale today and talk of 12 cargoes being sold to China would mean we are near a value area in the corn, and that should be enough to provide a bit of a bounce” in futures, said Jack Scoville, analyst with the Price Futures Group.

CBOT wheat rose on bargain buying following contract lows set on Tuesday, although hefty global wheat supplies limited rallies.

Prospects for Russia to produce another big wheat harvest in 2018 added to bearish sentiment. In the first major estimate for the coming year, agriculture consultancy SovEcon forecast Russia’s 2018 wheat crop at 76.7 million tonnes, which would be the country’s second-largest after a record 83.9 million tonnes this year.

CBOT soybean futures edged lower after a seesaw session as technical selling offset support from worries about dry weather in portions of Argentina.

“Soybeans are facing weakness because of rain in dry areas of Argentina, although the concerns about dryness in Argentine soybean regions has still not been completely removed,” said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager at INTL FCStone.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago; additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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