Drier Weather Pushes Grain, Soybean Futures Higher

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Grain and soybean futures rose on renewed weather concerns, as less rain fell on the Corn Belt than expected.

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Corn and soybean fields in Iowa, a key crop-growing state, got less moisture than initially thought and forecasters only expect significant showers to return to the Midwest in around two weeks. That puts up to a quarter of Midwest crops at risk of stress, Commodity Weather Group said.

Fast-changing prospects for rain and temperatures have meant a volatile week in the grain-and-oilseed market as traders bet on shifting forecasts.

"Nobody wants to take a big position on right now it seems," said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading Co. "Nobody has a lot of conviction. Without conviction you don't want to be excessively long and excessively short."

While western Midwest crops are suffering from dryness, much of the eastern Midwest is too wet. Mr. Gerlach said many fields around him in Fowler, Ind., were saturated.

"The damage it has done on corn is done," he said. "The question now is how it affects soybeans."

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August-dated soybean futures at the Chicago Board of Trade rose 0.6% to $9.94 3/4 a bushel while September corn climbed 0.4% to $3.74 1/4 a bushel.

Spring wheat futures led prices for other wheat varieties higher on Thursday too, with crop scouts wrapping up an annual tour across the Northern Plains. Swathes of spring wheat across the Dakotas have been devastated by drought, and analysts are watching to see whether farmers abandon more fields this year than usual.

In estimates released after the markets closed, crop scouts on average predicted a hard red spring wheat yield of 38.1 bushels per acre, down from 45.7 bushels per acre last year and below the five-year average, traders said.

September spring wheat futures at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange rose 0.9% to $7.36 1/2 a bushel, while CBOT September soft red spring wheat gained 0.4% to $4.79 3/4 a bushel.

Export sales released Thursday morning came within the range of expectations. U.S. exporters sold a combined 835,200 metric tons of soybeans for the old- and new-crop year, along with 578,600 tons of corn.

Higher crude-oil prices and strength in the broader commodity sector added strength to the grain-and-oilseed market, analysts said.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 27, 2017 15:53 ET (19:53 GMT)