U.S. grains: Nearby corn futures firm as USDA reports big sales to China

CBOT May soybeans, wheat also up

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures edged higher in actively traded nearby contracts on Tuesday on strong export demand after the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the largest sales to China since January.

Soybean futures were mixed, with nearby prices rising on concerns about South American harvest weather and spillover support from higher spot corn prices. Wheat futures were also mixed.

After weeks of sluggish corn export sales, grain traders had anticipated accelerated buying by China ahead of high-level talks with the U.S. later this week.

USDA on Tuesday confirmed U.S. corn sales to China totaling 1.156 million tonnes, the most since January.

The sales came after USDA on Monday reported one of the strongest weeks of corn export inspections on record.

“We’ve been hearing since last week that China might be buying ahead of the meeting in Alaska,” said Ted Seifried, chief ag market strategist at Zaner Group.

“The market was slightly disappointed that it wasn’t a bigger number, but also cautiously optimistic that we might see more tomorrow.”

Grain traders are also monitoring weather in South America, where periods of dryness and, at times, excessive rains have disrupted field work. The adverse weather lifted hopes for additional U.S. export sales.

Chicago Board of Trade May corn was 4-3/4 cents higher at $5.54-1/4 a bushel, while May soybeans gained 3-3/4 cents to $14.23-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$).

CBOT May wheat was two cents higher at $6.47 a bushel after touching a one-month low earlier in the day amid improved U.S. winter crop conditions.

Wheat prices were also pressured at times by signs that Russia was prepared to stop interfering in the regulation of grain exports.

— Reporting for Reuters by Karl Plume; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Canberra.

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