U.S. grains: Wheat drops on forecast, corn hits three-week high

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. wheat fell for the third straight session on Wednesday, pressured by technical selling and forecasts for rains needed in the parched southern U.S. Plains growing region.

But prices trimmed their losses while corn edged higher and soybeans lower in a choppy session at the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT). The narrow changes could characterize the trade until next week, when the U.S. Department of Agriculture is due to release one of the most important crop reports of the year.

“We’re spinning our wheels and going nowhere fast,” said Tom Fritz, analyst at brokerage EFG Group in Chicago. “(Wheat) had a nice correction from the recent high and we’re just looking at bottom-fishing.”

Scattered showers were forecast in the Plains wheat belt but were likely to miss the driest areas of Kansas and Oklahoma, agriculture meteorologists said.

Most-active CBOT May wheat finished 4-1/2 cents lower at $5.19 per bushel, down nearly four per cent from Monday’s more than one-month high (all figures US$).

Corn for May delivery ended up 1-3/2 cents at $3.95 per bushel, the highest since Feb. 27 even as the contract hit upside resistance at its 100- and 200-day moving averages.

“Corn perked up again on light short covering and intermarket spreading, with little fresh news around,” ED+F Man Capital analyst Charlie Sernatinger said in a note to clients.

CBOT May soybeans traded in positive and negative territory before settling down 3 cents at $9.78-3/4.

Ongoing harvests in South America continued to weigh on soybeans. Brazilian analyst lifted its estimate of the soy harvest there to 95.8 million tonnes, up from 94.7 a month ago.

USDA’s prospective plantings report, slated for release on Tuesday, may show U.S. farmers have cut corn sowings and increased soybean plantings on hopes of better earnings, a Reuters poll showed.

“Corn is being supported by expectations the USDA will forecast that U.S. farmers will reduce their corn sowings this year when the USDA makes its important plantings forecasts on March 31,” said Frank Rijkers, agrifood economist at ABN AMRO Bank. “Reduced plantings in the U.S. could reduce world corn supplies.”

Michael Hirtzer reports on crop commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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