U.S. grains: Wheat up on talk of Russia curbing exports

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures climbed to a one-week high on Monday on short-covering and concerns about the possibility that Russia might limit exports, traders said.

Soybeans rose, led by soymeal, while corn ended nearly unchanged.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, March wheat settled up six cents at $4.81-1/2 per bushel (all figures US$). March soybeans ended up four cents at $8.80-1/2, and March corn finished down 1/2 cent at $3.69-3/4.

Wheat futures rose on technical buying and fund short-covering after the Interfax news agency reported that Russia’s agriculture ministry was considering tougher grain export limits due to rising pork prices.

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Despite an existing wheat export duty, Russia’s grain exports hit a record in December due to the weakening ruble.

Brian Hoops of Midwest Market Solutions said Russia’s export curb had been rumoured in the past.

“So it’s not really bullish, but it is enough to give us some mild short covering,” Hoops said.

Commodity funds hold a historically large net short position in CBOT wheat, leaving the market vulnerable to bouts of short-covering.

The market drew additional support from worries about cold weekend weather in parts of Russia, Ukraine and China that may have threatened winter wheat crops.

A cold snap that hit Europe early this month damaged crops in the eastern part of the bloc and Ukraine, crop monitoring unit MARS said.

Soybean futures rose on concerns about dryness in Argentina’s crop belt and on chart-based strength in soymeal. CBOT March soymeal dipped to $268.40 per short ton earlier but failed to match last week’s low of $268.10, triggering some technical buying.

“That 268 level had strong support last week,” said Mike Zuzolo of Global Commodity Analytics. “Technically, meal is the leader.”

CBOT corn settled nearly unchanged, retreating after the March contract reached $3.72-1/2, a one-month high.

Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hogan and Naveen Thukral.

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