Grain Futures Bounce on Exports; Soybeans Sag

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Grain futures rose on Thursday, boosted by strong export sales.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that exporters sold 1.56 million metric tons of corn and 833,200 tons of wheat in the week ended Dec. 14, both above the range of pre-report estimates. Soybean sales were larger yet, at 1.76 million tons, but within expectations.

Price erosion in those markets has helped make U.S. produce more competitive among exporters, analysts said.

Traders were "assuming that exports will pick up after the first of the year with the U.S. offering the cheapest corn in the world," said Tomm Pfitzenmaier, a founding partner at Summit Commodity Brokerage in Des Moines, Iowa.

Corn futures for March delivery rose 0.6% to $3.51 1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, near a two-month high. March wheat futures rose 0.8% to $4.27 a bushel, the highest point in a month.

CBOT January soybean futures fell, however, dropping 0.6% to $9.48 3/4 a bushel.

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Wetter weather conditions in Argentina have limited concerns about the country's soybean crop, pressuring U.S. prices in turn as traders bet that supplies will grow next year. Weather conditions in much of neighboring producer Brazil's crop growing regions have been good.

Hedge funds, who until recently bet in large numbers that soybean prices would rise, have recently soured on the oilseed's prospects. Some analysts said that they are erasing their net long position, adding to the selling pressure.

"The funds are now flat and the concern is that they will begin establishing short positions in the beans like the have in corn and wheat," Mr. Pfitzenmaier said. "There has been a lot of attention on the Argentine moisture situation, but Brazil grows a lot of beans and their crop conditions, so far, have been nearly ideal."

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 21, 2017 15:38 ET (20:38 GMT)