Wheat Futures Settle Higher After Swings

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Wheat futures seesawed in a volatile session on Wednesday, closing upward after sliding as traders booked profits on a recent rally.

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Drought conditions in the northern Plains have lifted futures for spring wheat, a higher-protein class of the grain that is grown in the region, above $8 a bushel for the first time in almost 4 years.

Traders initially extended that rally before pushing spring wheat contracts almost a dollar lower in a little over an hour as they locked in gains on optimistic bets.

"We had a big gallop," said Dan Basse, president of research firm AgResource Co. in Chicago. "People wanted to get to the sidelines, take some money off the table."

Spring wheat futures for September delivery eventually settled up 0.4% to $8.19 1/2 a bushel at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange. July-dated winter wheat futures rose 0.5% to $5.39 1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Weather forecasts for parts of the northern Plains continue dire, however, and analysts expect the U.S. Department of Agriculture to show a decline in the portion of the crop rated good or excellent in a report at 4 p.m. EDT.

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Concerns that some of that hot and dry weather could drift eastward into Midwestern corn-and-soybean country have pushed prices for those crops higher too. The Commodity Weather Group forecast less rain in the region this week, though the group said fast-shifting models limit its confidence in rain placement forecasts.

CBOT July soybean futures rose 1.2% to $9.76 1/4 a bushel on Wednesday. Though the oilseed is earlier in its growing cycle than corn and less vulnerable to current weather patterns, analysts say problems are mounting for that crop too. That has encouraged traders to build the weather risk into prices.

Field reports show an abundance of soybean fields in poor shape as a result of plant disease and insect damage, said analyst Karl Setzer of MaxYield Cooperative in West Bend, Iowa.

"There is a lot of growing season ahead of us and plenty of time for this crop to either increase in size or decrease," Mr. Setzer said.

CBOT July corn futures climbed 1% to $3.81 3/4 a bushel.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 05, 2017 15:14 ET (19:14 GMT)