Grain, Soybean Futures Start Week Lower

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Grain and soybean futures fell after a wet and cooler turn in weather forecasts eased concerns about growing pains for U.S. crops.

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Prices in the futures market have recently tracked a fast-changing weather outlook. Forecasters over the weekend said that cooler temperatures this week would limit stress to corn and soybean crops while showers would ease a moisture deficit in some regions.

That prompted heavy selling in those markets. Still, futures came off overnight lows in Monday's session as a substantial risk of damage to pockets of the crop, particularly in the northern Plains and western Midwest, lingered.

"Every crop year is different, and this one is shaping up to be a really difficult one to assess," said Kurt Koester, president of brokerage Agrisource in West Des Moines, Iowa. "You've got so many pockets of too dry, and too wet."

This is the most difficult growing season so far since 2012, Mr. Koester said, though the sharp regional differences in weather made it hard to gauge the impact on crop yields.

Analysts expect the U.S. Department of Agriculture to show the share of corn, soybean and spring wheat crops rated good or excellent steady to 1% lower in its weekly progress report at 4 p.m. ET.

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The USDA said Monday morning that private exporters sold 150,000 metric ton of corn to Colombia for the 2017-18 crop year. Analysts said that, along with Monday's export inspection figures, were positive for this time of year, though the impact on prices was limited by concerns about the weather.

Meanwhile, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission released on Friday showed money managers extending their bets that soybean prices would rise by a third, coming to a net long position of over 50,000 futures and options. They increased their net long position in corn by 2%, while cutting optimistic wheat positions by 22%. Some analysts had expected to see managed money pulling out of long positions in corn and soybeans.

Wheat led losses on Monday, with September contracts at the Chicago Board of Trade down 1.4% to $4.74 1/2 a bushel. CBOT September corn futures fell 0.9% to $3.70 3/4 a bushel while August soybeans dropped 0.6% to $9.94 1/2 a bushel.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

July 31, 2017 15:48 ET (19:48 GMT)