U.S. grains: Corn, wheat tumble ahead of year’s end

Reuters — Chicago corn and wheat slipped on Wednesday, as concerns about potential damage to winter wheat crops moved to the background in light year-end trading.

Soybeans rose on technical buying, despite forecasts for much-needed rains in parts of Brazil next week.

With a lack of fresh bullish news for the grains, traders sold futures, based on ample global supplies, said Mike Krueger, president of The Money Farm grain marketing service in Fargo, N.D.

“People are just content to go home and come back after (Jan. 1) and see what’s going on,” he said. “If there’s nothing bullish in the nearby, people say ‘Stocks are comfortable.'”

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Expectations for funds to cover short positions before the new year haven’t materialized, Krueger said.

There is little reason to rally prices, given predictions that cash-strapped farmers will accelerate selling in early January, said J. Mark Kinoff, president of Ceres Hedge.

“We don’t have any shortage of anything,” he said.

Chicago Board of Trade March wheat futures slipped 1.4 per cent or six cents at $4.69-3/4 a bushel, pressured by technical selling (all figures US$). The contract earlier touched $4.79-1/2 a bushel, the highest since Dec. 22.

Concerns about potential damage to winter wheat may be legitimate, but won’t be confirmed until later in the season, Krueger said.

Weekend storms caused flooding in parts of the southern U.S. Midwest, threatening the region’s soft red winter wheat, crop experts said on Monday.

A forecast plunge in temperatures in parts of Russia could also pose risks to winter grains after abnormally warm weather in recent weeks reduced protective snow cover.

March corn fell one per cent or 3-1/2 cents to $3.59 a bushel.

Traders said the removal of Argentina’s export duties weighed on corn values. Selling by Argentinian farmers is expected to bring increased competition to the export market.

March soybeans in Chicago edged up 0.4 per cent or 4-1/2 cents to $8.70-1/4 a bushel, after reaching an 11-day low earlier in the week.

Significant relief was headed for dry areas of Brazil, Commodity Weather Group said in a note on Wednesday.

Nearby Chicago contracts of corn, wheat and soybeans are on pace for their third straight yearly declines.

Rod Nickel is a Reuters correspondent covering the agriculture and mining sectors from Winnipeg. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hirtzer in Chicago.

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