Grain, Soybean Futures Start Week Lower

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Grain and soybean futures fell in a mixed session as traders digested changing weather forecasts.

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Growing prospects for U.S. crops are still mixed. Drought continues to harm spring wheat, while varying moisture and heat levels across the Midwest are stressing some of the corn and soybean crops. MDA Weather Services forecast rain in parts of the region this week to give way to drier conditions in its 11-to-15 day outlook.

That has traders closely following forecasts for clues about final crop yields. A number of other factors also weighed down Monday's trade.

The National Oilseed Processors Association said that June's U.S. soybean crush fell to 138.1 million bushels, down from 149.3 million in May and below the range of analyst estimates. Soybean oil stocks also fell below expectations to 1.7 billion pounds from 1.75 billion in May.

Soybean futures reversed course after the report, giving back early gains to close lower. The lower crush rate was a sign of soft demand when U.S. soybean producers are under pressure from exporters in countries like Brazil.

August-dated oilseed contracts at the Chicago Board of Trade fell 0.4% to $9.85 a bushel.

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Regulatory data released Friday afternoon, showing that money managers were now betting that corn and soybean prices would rise, also limited gains. After weeks of betting that prices would fall, hedge funds were now net long around 100,000 corn futures and options contracts and 19,000 soybean futures and options.

The fact that many hedge funds had already bought up optimistic positions gave those markets less ammunition for future rallies, analysts said. All this left grain-and-oilseed markets with a lackluster outlook.

"We are going to need to find a fresh stimulus if additional buying is to materialize," said Dan Hueber, manager of advisory firm the Hueber Report.

CBOT September corn closed 0.3% lower at $3.75 a bushel while September wheat fell 0.9% to $5.06 a bushel.

Traders are looking to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's updated crop condition numbers, released at 4 p.m. EDT, for clues about the toll the erratic weather has taken so far.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 17, 2017 15:16 ET (19:16 GMT)