Wheat Leads Grain, Soybean Markets

Wheat futures rose on Thursday as traders eased off bets that prices would fall.

Hedge funds have held a large net short position in the wheat market for several months, as factors from weak U.S. exports to growing international production sparked bets that the market was headed lower.

But fund managers started to unwind some of those positions this week, analysts said, helping prices bounce. Dry weather and bouts of freezing temperatures in the Great Plains could cut into winter wheat yields, analysts said, presenting a potential risk to traders taking pessimistic positions in the market.

Wheat futures for March delivery rose 0.9% to $4.25 1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, recovering some of last week's losses.

Soybean prices also rose, while corn was lower. CBOT March soybean futures gained 0.4% to $9.73 a bushel. March corn slid 0.4% to $3.51 1/2.

A lower U.S. dollar helped foster additional buying interest in the wheat and soybean markets, which both rely on exports as a source of demand. The WSJ Dollar Index, which measures the greenback against a series of other currencies, fell 0.37% to 84.4, helping to make U.S. crops cheaper.

South American growing conditions have been mixed. Around 10% of Argentina's corn-and-soybean belt is at risk of stress in the near term, said the Commodity Weather Group, but dry weather over the next two weeks could lead to mounting crop stress in some regions.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 18, 2018 15:47 ET (20:47 GMT)