Winter Kill' Threat Boosts Wheat Futures; Soybeans Fall

By Jacob BungeFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Wheat futures climbed Wednesday as forecasts for an extended cold snap across the U.S. raised crop-damage concerns. Corn futures also rose, while soybeans declined.

Sub-zero temperatures are gripping portions of the U.S. grain belt, with little relief anticipated for much of the next week. The prospects for damage to the U.S. winter wheat crop helped perk up prices for wheat contracts generally, pushing March-dated contracts 1.4% higher at the Chicago Board of Trade, settling at $4.28 a bushel -- the contract's highest close since Nov. 14.

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Wheat futures also gained some momentum from investors' earlier bets that wheat prices would fall. Craig Turner, senior broker at Daniels Trading in Chicago, said investment fund managers were exiting some of those positions as concerns rose about "winter kill," helping to drive contracts higher. Exiting such trades typically involves buying contracts.

"The funds are heavily short winter wheat," Mr. Turner said.

Still, traders questioned whether frosty temperatures would propel wheat prices for long. EDF Man Capital Markets Inc. analysts said any damage isn't likely to become apparent until wheat plants emerge from dormancy in April.

January-dated soybean futures fell 0.4% to settle at $9.55 1/2 a bushel, after failing to extend the two prior sessions' gains, largely based on reports of hot and dry weather threatening some South American growing regions. While the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday reported a 110,000-ton soybean sale to Chinese buyers, buying and selling of the oilseeds this week generally has been slow, analysts said.

March corn futures edged 0.3% higher to settle at $3.53 3/4 a bushel.

Write to Jacob Bunge at jacob.bunge@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 27, 2017 15:20 ET (20:20 GMT)