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U.S. wheat remains firm on spring crop worries

Reuters, 29.06.17

PARIS/SYDNEY, June 28 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat edged higher on Wednesday, supported by a near three-year high for Minneapolis spring wheat, as worries about parched crops in the northern U.S. offset supply pressure from winter wheat harvesting in the northern hemisphere.

Corn and soybeans were little changed, as the market weighed up lower than expected crop ratings in a U.S. government report this week against favourable weather forecasts in the Midwest growing belt.

Investors were also adjusting positions as grain markets focused increasingly on this Friday's U.S. planting and stocks reports, publications that often trigger sharp price movements.

The most active wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade had risen 0.2 percent to $4.70 a bushel by 1208 GMT.

Spot spring wheat futures on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange (MGEX) were up 1.0 percent at $6.88-1/4, close to an earlier high of $6.90 that marked a fresh peak since July 2014.

"A USDA report suggested significant chunks of the U.S. and, by dint of proximity, Canada's, spring wheat crop was in poor condition," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy, Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

In its weekly U.S. crop conditions report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture rated 40 percent of the spring wheat crop in good-to-excellent condition, down from 41 percent a week earlier and below market expectations of 41 percent.

Continued dry weather is forecast across key U.S. growing regions, threatening further downgrades.

However, gains outside the MGEX spring wheat market were being capped by progress in winter wheat harvesting in the United States and Europe.

Despite a slower start to harvesting in top wheat exporter Russia this year following wet, cool weather in spring, analysts expect another big crop.

Consultancy IKAR on Tuesday raised its forecast for 2017 wheat production in Russia to 66-71 million tonnes from 64-69 million previously.

"Large quantities of wheat are expected to flood the international markets from Russia again this year," Commerzbank analysts said in a note.

The most active soybean futures inched up 0.1 percent to $9.18 a bushel, while corn edged down 0.1 percent to $3.59 a bushel.

Weather forecasts calling for crop-friendly rain next week were keeping a lid on corn and soybean prices, despite the slightly lower than anticipated crop ratings in Monday's U.S. Department of Agriculture report.

Traders were positioning ahead of the USDA's June 30 U.S. sowing acreage and quarterly stocks reports.

Analysts expected the government to slightly raise its estimate of U.S. 2017 corn plantings and trim its soybean plantings figure.

Prices at 1208 GMT Last Change Pct End Ytd Pct Move 2016 Move CBOT wheat 470.00 1.00 0.21 408.00 15.20 CBOT corn 359.00 -0.25 -0.07 352.00 1.99 CBOT soy 918.00 0.50 0.05 1004.00 -8.57 Paris MAT wheat Sep 169.50 -1.25 -0.73 168.00 0.89 Paris maize Jun 174.25 0.00 0.00 166.00 4.97 Paris rape Aug 356.25 -1.75 -0.49 408.50 -12.79 WTI crude oil 44.09 -0.15 -0.34 53.72 -17.93 Euro/dlr 1.14 0.00 0.35 Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel, Paris futures in euros per tonne.

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