Grain Futures Rise on Weather Concerns

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Grain futures rose on Thursday as cold, wet weather battered key growing regions.

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Heavy rain in parts of the Midwest would delay corn planting and decrease soft red wheat quality, said MDA Weather Services, while cold temperatures in the U.S. plains could also damage the wheat crop there.

"The rains in the Midwest have been big, but manageable so far," Charlie Sernatinger, head of grain trading at ED&F Man Capital Markets Inc. "More is coming, however."

Any sign that weather would help limit what is expected to be another bumper crop this year would be welcome to traders.

But concern about potential Trump administration action on the North American Free Trade Agreement has limited price advances. Grain and soybean futures fell Wednesday on speculation that the U.S. was poised to begin its withdrawal from the deal, but prices bounced after a White House statement late Wednesday that it would seek to renegotiate the terms of trade first.

Mexico is the largest importer of U.S. corn, and a withdrawal from Nafta would be "disastrous," the National Corn Growers Association said in a note. It would "cost America's farmers and ranchers markets that we will never recover," the trade group said.

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Corn futures for May delivery rose 0.8% to $3.62 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade on Thursday, while CBOT May wheat futures rose 1.4% to $4.13 1/2 a bushel.

Broader pressures in the commodity markets also limited gains. Crude oil fell sharply on Thursday while the dollar rose.

Soybean prices were steady despite strong export sales. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recorded soybean export sales of 880,400 metric tons as of April 20. That was well above analyst estimates, which ranged up to 550,000 tons.

CBOT May soybeans closed unchanged at $9.45 3/4 a bushel.

Write to Benjamin Parkin at benjamin.parkin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

April 27, 2017 15:57 ET (19:57 GMT)