U.S. grains: Soybeans hit eight-month high

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybeans surged to the highest levels in eight months on Thursday on technical buying and bull-spreading as investors eyed outlooks for lower output due to rains in Argentina.

Corn and wheat futures tumbled more than two per cent in a profit-taking setback at the Chicago Board of Trade, with volumes heavy in all three commodities, traders said. The looming expiration of May options on Friday injected further volatility in market moves that some analysts said were tied more to money flow than the fundamentals of supply and demand.

“The real story in the ags continues to be soybeans,” INTL FCStone analyst Arlan Suderman said in a note. “Fundamentally, Argentine losses tighten the margin for error ahead of the Midwest growing season, but we won’t know really what those losses are in Argentina until we get much of the first half of the crop harvested.”

The most-active soybean contract surged to the highest levels since July, gaining for the third straight day and on pace for a weekly rise of 7.4 per cent that would represent the largest weekly spike since 2012. CBOT soybeans for July delivery settled 8-1/2 cents higher at $10.27-1/2 per bushel, off their earlier peak of $10.43-3/4.

Argentina’s government and one of its main grains exchanges at midday slashed their soy harvest forecasts, citing fierce storms that have swamped many parts of the Pampas farm belt this month.

Reduced output in Argentina, coupled with tight domestic corn supplies and dry growing conditions in Brazil, gave investors a bullish narrative and has prompted massive new flows into agriculture commodities.

The surging prices prompted some investors to exit short positions and farmers to sell physical supplies, limiting gains.

CBOT corn declined for only the second time this month. Most-active July corn futures settled 10 cents lower at $3.89-3/4 per bushel, after earlier hitting a six-month high of $4.07-1/4.

CBOT July wheat eased 8-3/4 cents to $5.03-1/2, reversing after reaching the highest levels since November.

Michael Hirtzer reports on agriculture and ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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