U.S. grains: Wheat rises on short-covering, planting worries

New York | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures gained on Monday, lifted by short-covering and technical buying, as well as concerns about North American production as weather in the Midwest threatened to delay planting.

Corn prices also rose, extending gains into a fourth session, while soybean futures firmed.

The May wheat futures contract on the Chicago Board of Trade closed 3-1/2 cents higher at $4.69-1/2 per bushel (all figures US$).

CBOT May corn gained 1-1/2 cents to $3.79-3/4 per bushel. It earlier hit $3.80-3/4 a bushel, matching a one-month high set on Friday.

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CBOT May soybeans rose 2-3/4 cents to $9.06-1/2 a bushel.

“It’s a macro day,” said Terry Reilly, senior commodity analyst at Futures International. “Some traders are just thinking the grain markets are oversold.”

Raising concerns about wheat production, a blanket of heavy, wet snow is covering most of North Dakota, the top U.S. wheat state, which could mean a delay in planting of spring wheat.

The U.S. farm belt is still reeling from a “bomb cyclone” storm that unleashed floods last week.

“The flooding we saw last week is spilling over into today’s market,” Reilly said. “It reduces the total amount of prospected harvesting area.”

On Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export inspections of U.S. wheat in the latest week at 340,398 tonnes. Export inspections of corn totaled 995,997 tonnes, while inspections of soybeans were 857,970 tonnes.

Corn futures received some support from hopes for additional Chinese purchases after USDA announced corn sales totalling 300,000 tonnes to China on Friday, Beijing’s largest U.S. corn purchase in more than five years.

The orders came following weeks of rumours that Beijing was poised to make a goodwill purchase of the grain amid ongoing U.S.-China trade talks.

A farmer survey by crop advisory firm Farm Futures on Friday said U.S. growers will plant 1.9 per cent more corn acres this year and 3.7 per cent fewer soybean acres.

Meanwhile, traders remained focused on U.S.-China trade negotiations as U.S. officials prepared to travel to Beijing this week to accelerate talks, buoying soybean prices ahead of the discussions.

— Stephanie Kelly reports on energy and commodity markets for Reuters from New York; additional reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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