U.S. grains: Wheat down on weak export demand

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures fell for a third straight day on Wednesday, pressured by plentiful global supplies and strong competition for export business, especially from Russia, traders said.

Corn fell, following wheat, and soybeans also declined after a choppy session.

Chicago Board of Trade December wheat settled down 4-3/4 cents at $4.30 per bushel after dipping to $4.29, its lowest in nearly a week (all figures US$). CBOT December corn ended down 1-1/2 cents at $3.48-1/2 a bushel while November soybeans fell 1/2 cent at $9.84-1/4 a bushel.

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Wheat slipped more than one per cent, with the December contract ending lower for the seventh session of the last eight.

Recent strength in the dollar added pressure, making U.S. grains less attractive to those holding other currencies. The U.S. dollar index turned lower, snapping a four-day rally, after early advances.

“The slow export pace in wheat and the higher greenback is weighing on prices,” said Terry Reilly, senior commodity analyst with Futures International.

Reflecting the loss of market share for U.S wheat in Egypt, the world’s top importer, U.S. Wheat Associates, a trade group that promotes U.S. exports, is closing its office in Cairo after about 40 years, a spokesman said on Tuesday.

Egypt has been sourcing most of its wheat in recent years from Russia, which was projected by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to harvest a record-large crop this year of 82 million tonnes.

After the CBOT close, Egypt’s General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) set a tender to buy wheat from global suppliers for shipment from Dec. 1-10. GASC bought Russian wheat exclusively in each of its last three purchase tenders.

The decline in CBOT wheat futures dragged on corn, along with favorable harvest weather in the U.S. Midwest this week. CBOT December corn hovered a few cents above its contract low of $3.42-1/2, set last week.

Soybeans ended lower for a third straight session. The benchmark November contract topped $10 a bushel last week for the first time since July, but has backed down this week, due in part to hedge-related selling.

“The soybean market confirmed its incapacity to stay above $10 per bushel. The return of dry weather in the U.S. will allow farmers to speed up harvest works,” consultancy Agritel said in a note.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago; additional reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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