Wheat Futures Rise Ahead of Cold Snap

By Benjamin ParkinFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Wheat futures led gains in the grain market over concerns about cold weather threatening a key growing region.

Weather forecasts for the Great Plains show temperatures next week dropping enough to potentially damage the winter wheat crop, which is in the early stages of its growing season.

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Forecasters stressed that the likelihood of significant harm was low, though analysts said the risk provided an opportunity for some traders to roll out of bets that prices would fall ahead of the holiday period.

"Winter wheat has gone into dormancy without any snow cover for protection, and very dry conditions which may already have limited yield potential for the winter wheat," said Brian Hoops, president of brokerage Midwest Market Solutions.

Wheat futures for March rose 1% to $4.23 1/2 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, trading just short of a one-month high.

Advances in wheat prices helped pull corn futures higher too, analysts said. CBOT March corn futures rose 0.5% to $3.49 1/4 a bushel.

Soybean futures turned lower, however, giving back overnight gains. Oilseed contracts have recently developed a pattern of starting higher and then leaking. CBOT January soybean futures fell 0.2% to $9.54 a bushel.

Soybean prices have fallen over 5% since early December as concerns mount about U.S. export competitiveness. American exporters are well behind the pace of sales projected for this year, and market observers say the window to catch up is closing.

Production estimates for the Brazilian soybean crop are rising on good growing conditions. That could cut into demand for U.S. oilseed once that crop is ready early next year.

"Yearly sales remain well behind expectations and we are at a stage of the year where demand has likely peaked for U.S. offerings," says Karl Setzer, an analyst at MaxYield Cooperative.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 20, 2017 15:41 ET (20:41 GMT)