U.S. corn steadies, gains capped by sluggish exports


U.S. corn futures steadied on Friday but remained in striking distance of the prior session’s seven-month low as sluggish exports and ample supplies continued to weigh.

Chicago wheat and soybean prices edged up as the market began to focus on closely watched reports on grains stocks and winter wheat plantings to be issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Tuesday.

March corn on the Chicago Board of Trade was up 0.3 percent at $3.54 a bushel at 1205 GMT. The market hit a near seven-month low of $3.48-1/2 a bushel on Thursday.

“U.S. agricultural commodities are facing stiff competition as South American products are flooding the market and the Chinese economic situation is causing concerns over demand,” said Kaname Gokon at brokerage Okato Shoji in Tokyo.

“The market is looking at the USDA report for direction, but we expect prices to remain under pressure.”

The USDA reported on Thursday that export sales of U.S. corn in the week to Dec. 31 were 252,900 tonnes, below analysts’ expectations for 400,000 to 600,000 tonnes.

CBOT wheat edged up with the market underpinned by short covering ahead of next week’s U.S. winter wheat seedings report, which could show plantings are at the lowest level since 2009.

Dealers said the slow pace of U.S. exports in the face of increased competition from Argentina was helping to keep prices in the cash market on the defensive.

Export sales of U.S. wheat in the week to Dec. 31 were 76,500 tonnes, a marketing year low and well below analyst expectations for 200,000 to 400,000 tonnes.

“The U.S. releases winter planting details next week, which along with the record fund short in U.S. wheat may allow U.S. markets to pause for breath,” David Sheppard, managing director of UK merchant Gleadell, said in a market note.

“However, this is not going to change the direction of the cash markets, which are increasingly ignoring U.S. futures,” Sheppard added.

CBOT March wheat was up 0.4 percent at $4.70-1/2 a bushel, while March wheat in Paris rose 0.6 percent to 170.50 euros a tonne.

Argentina’s 2015-16 wheat output is now forecast at 10.1 million tonnes compared with a previous estimate of 9.5 million tonnes, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said in its weekly crop report on Thursday.

The bourse cited higher-than-expected yields as the reason for the revision.

CBOT March soybeans rose 0.3 percent to $8.66-3/4 a bushel.

Source: Reuters



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