Grain Prices Rise; Traders Look to Friday Reports

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Grain futures turned higher on Tuesday, while soybean contracts continued to fall.

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Analysts said there was relatively little to move prices in the day's session, with traders concentrating instead on a slew of government reports due on Friday. Some analysts suggested hedge funds were positioning for the reports by easing off bets that grain prices would fall. Money managers are holding substantial net short positions in both corn and wheat markets.

That helped to bolster grain prices, the traders said. Corn futures for March delivery rose 0.5% to $3.49 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, while March-dated wheat contracts rose 1.1% to $4.32 1/4 a bushel.

January soybean futures fell, however, closing 0.3% lower at $9.55 3/4 a bushel.

Friday's reports will update traders on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's supply-and-demand outlook, quarterly grain stocks and wheat planting.

Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal, on average, expect the agency to ramp up its projected domestic soybean stockpiles for 2017-18 to 477 million bushels from its previous estimate of 445 million, a reflection of weaker exports than initially expected. The analysts expect the agency to lower its domestic and global corn supply forecasts for this crop year.

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The USDA will likely show that U.S. winter wheat farmers planted 31.4 million acres of the grain for 2018-19, down from 32.7 million a year earlier. They also expect to see a reduction in quarterly wheat stocks as of Dec. 1 last year.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 09, 2018 15:27 ET (20:27 GMT)