U.S. grains: Corn nears four-year high

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures neared a four-year high on Thursday, buoyed by worries about yield prospects for the delayed crop and firm cash markets, analysts said.

Soybeans also advanced as weather worries threatened to curtail U.S. production of the oilseed, and wheat futures followed the firm trend.

Chicago Board of Trade July corn settled up 12 cents at $4.42 per bushel after reaching $4.42-3/4, the highest for a most-active contract since July 2015 (all figures US$). New-crop December corn set a contract high at $4.56-3/4.

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CBOT July soybeans ended up 10 cents at $8.88 a bushel and July soft red winter wheat futures finished up 9-1/4 cents at $5.35-1/2 a bushel.

Corn led the way up, with technical buying accelerating as the new-crop December contract pushed above its previous contract high of $4.54.

Cash markets for corn have been firm in recent days reflecting demand from ethanol producers and other processors, coupled with a slow pace of farmer offerings.

“Basis levels, particularly out east, are strong. Obviously with the weather in Indiana, Ohio, eastern Illinois, you are starting to see some hoarding of old-crop stocks,” said Matt Connelly, analyst with the Hightower Report.

Connelly noted that the U.S. Energy Information Administration on Wednesday reported an increase in weekly U.S. production of corn-based ethanol and a drop in U.S. stocks.

CBOT corn futures got a big boost on Tuesday when the U.S. Department of Agriculture cut its forecast of the U.S. 2019 corn yield in a monthly report and slashed its forecast of 2019-20 ending stocks, citing “unprecedented planting delays.”

“With so much late planting this season, the tail on weather threats to this U.S. corn crop will run well into the Northern (Hemisphere) autumn,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

CBOT soybeans rose for a fourth consecutive session as persistent rain in the Midwest crop belt raised concerns that later-planted soy would be hit too. USDA said the U.S. soybean crop was 60 per cent planted by June 9, compared to the five-year average of 88 per cent.

“Producers are going to plant beans until the Fourth of July weekend. They are going to get the crop in, but here we go again with yield drag, and running up against October weather and maturity,” Connelly said.

CBOT wheat futures followed corn higher. Nearby CBOT wheat contracts gained against back months on spreads, supported by strong domestic cash basis bids for soft red winter wheat.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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