Corn Futures Reverse Course on Poor Exports

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Corn futures turned lower Thursday as traders responded to weaker global demand for U.S. grain.

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The Department of Agriculture reported weekly export sales of 277,700 metric tons for 2016-17, the lowest so far this year and below analyst expectations.

"Those are not good numbers," said Brian Hoops, president of brokerage Midwest Market Solutions, adding that an increase in planting pace also fueled selling.

In its Wednesday supply-and-demand report, the USDA forecast U.S. corn exports falling by 350 million bushels as Brazilian and Argentine producers ramp up production.

Most actively traded July corn futures fell 1.2% to $3.69 1/4 a bushel in Thursday's session at the Chicago Board of Trade.

But the USDA also projects falling global supplies of corn from this season to the next, along with a reduction in global soybean stocks. Analysts said that bodes well for grain and oilseed futures longer term.

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"The scales have begun to tilt towards lower global supplies," said Dan Hueber, manager of advisory firm the Hueber Report. "That should point to a more positive price outlook at least through the next few months."

Wheat futures rose on Thursday. Snow and rain in key growing regions of the U.S. have delayed planting of this year's spring wheat crop. The USDA said on Monday that a little over half of the crop had been planted, well behind last year, and weather continues to complicate fieldwork.

Mr. Hoops said farmers likely would switch to other crops as the delay begins to chip away at yield.

"If they don't get it in the ground, they'll lose any profitability at all," he said.

CBOT July wheat futures rose 0.5% to $4.33 3/4 a bushel. CBOT July soybeans fell 0.4% to $9.66 1/4 a bushel.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 11, 2017 15:24 ET (19:24 GMT)