Soybean Futures Hit One-Month Low on Rainfall

By Quint Forgey and Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Soybean futures fell to the lowest point in over a month on Thursday, leading a day of selling across grain and oilseed markets.

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Rain in the Midwest overnight added moisture to the soybean crop and pressured prices. Better growing weather for the oilseed in August, with plenty of rain and cool temperatures forecast, prompted a selloff this week.

Traders are betting that soybean supplies will be large as a result, with U.S. farmers already sowing more acres of the crop than ever before this year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates.

"August is the month that either makes or breaks the soybean crop," Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at brokerage INTL FCStone in Kansas City, Mo., said. The benign forecast "would suggest above-trend yields on soybeans and big surplus supplies."

August-dated soybean futures at the Chicago Board of Trade fell 1.7% to $9.50 1/2 a bushel on Thursday, closing at the lowest point since late June.

Futures for corn and wheat, which are already under pressure from a large global surplus of grain, followed soybean prices down.

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CBOT September corn futures fell 0.4% to $3.63 1/2 a bushel, while September wheat dropped 0.7% to $4.57 3/4 a bushel. Wheat futures are also trading at the lowest point in a little over a month.

Dave Marshall, a farm-marketing adviser at First Choice Commodities in Nashville, Ill., said that volatile U.S. weather, with dryness and heat in much of the western Corn Belt through July, has created uncertainty about yield prospects for the corn crop.

Private forecaster Informa Economics estimated on Thursday a corn yield of 165.9 bushels per acre, according to analysts, well below last year but in line with many other estimates. Informa also estimated a soybean yield of 47.3 bushels per acre, close to the USDA's most recent forecast but also below last year.

The USDA will update those numbers in its monthly supply-and-demand report, due out Aug. 10.

Meanwhile, export sales figures released by the agency were mostly sluggish, putting added pressure on prices. Corn and soybean exports were in line with expectations while wheat sales fell below the range of estimates at 145,500 metric tons.

"We're at a time of year when U.S. overseas sales start to wane because of intense foreign competition," said Joel Karlin, an economist with Western Milling in Goshen, Calif.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 03, 2017 16:35 ET (20:35 GMT)