Grain, Soybean Futures Drift as Traders Await Report

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Grain and soybean futures were mixed in a quiet session ahead of a government supply-and-demand report.

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Traders were mostly positioning for updated forecasts on this year's harvest from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, due Thursday at 12 p.m. EDT.

Soybean prices were under pressure for some of Wednesday's session, however, after the USDA said that private exporters reported cancellations of export sales of 130,000 metric tons of soybeans to unknown destinations. That pushed oilseed futures down from overnight gains.

Updated weather forecasts, meanwhile, showed more rain across the Midwest and Plains next week, with dryness still expected to linger in parts of key crop-growing states like Iowa and Illinois this week.

Soybean futures for September closed down 0.1% at $9.66 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade on Wednesday. CBOT September corn contracts rose 0.7% to $3.72 1/4 a bushel while September wheat climbed 0.6% to $4.59 1/2 a bushel.

Analysts expect the USDA to lower its corn and soybean yield forecasts in Thursday's report. The agency will likely forecast corn yield of around 166 bushels per acre and 47.4 bushels per acre for soybeans, according to a survey by The Wall Street Journal. Analysts say the corn figure will carry more weight among traders as that crop is further along in its development.

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Despite a difficult growing season so far, large global supplies have limited gains in the futures market. Any estimated corn yield closer to the USDA's July forecast of 170.7 bushels per acre would like pressure prices further, analysts say.

Average pre-report estimates put the USDA's spring wheat production forecast at 393 million bushels, down from 534 million last crop year. Swathes of the spring wheat crop have been devastated by a drought in the Dakotas, leading some farmers to give up on their harvest altogether.

That uncertainty prompted a rally in spring wheat futures in June, and traders have held onto most of those gains since.

September spring wheat contracts at the Minneapolis Grain Exchange rose 0.4% to $7.34 a bushel on Wednesday.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 09, 2017 15:41 ET (19:41 GMT)