Grain, Soybean Futures Drift Ahead of Crop Report

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Grain and soybean futures were mixed on Monday as traders positioned ?themselves ?ahead of a crop condition-and-planting report.

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Corn futures for July delivery closed 0.1% higher at $3.73 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, after fluctuating within a small range during Monday's session. July soybean futures also rose 0.1% to $9.22 a bushel.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will release its weekly crop progress report at 4 p.m. ET on Monday, updating traders on soybean planting progress and corn crop condition, which fell below expectations last week.

Traders want to the see the updated numbers "before anyone is willing to stick their neck out too far," said Doug Bergman, director of the agricultural trading desk at RCM Alternatives in Chicago.

Sunshine in the Midwest should aid the nascent corn crop while allowing farmers to progress with fieldwork, analysts say. Analysts surveyed by ?The Wall Street Journal expect 66% of the corn crop in good or excellent condition, just up from 65% in last week's report, and soybeans to be 78% planted, compared with 67% last week.

Large speculative bets on lower corn and soybean futures could leave the market vulnerable to a sharp correction if weather and crop conditions are a surprise, analysts say. Friday's Commitment of Traders report showed money managers extending their net short positions in both contracts.

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"The fact that funds piled into larger short positions last week, particularly in the bean complex, could be making some traders ill at ease," said Dan Hueber, general manager of advisory firm the Hueber Report.?

CBOT July Chicago soft-red winter wheat futures closed unchanged at $4.29 1/2 a bushel.

Minneapolis hard-red spring wheat settled 0.9% higher at $5.89 a bushel, the highest close since July 2015. Spring wheat futures rallied recently on poorer protein content in some winter wheat. But hot and dry weather in the northern Plains growing region has created weather concerns of its own for the spring wheat crop.?

Analysts expect 61% of the spring wheat crop to be in good or excellent condition, down from 62% last week.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 05, 2017 15:26 ET (19:26 GMT)