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Corn, wheat drift lower on weak export demand; U.S. weather eyed

* Corn futures underpinned by U.S. planting worries
* Funds already hold large net short positions in grains
* Trader awaits updates on U.S.-China trade talks
* MGEX spring wheat ends up on firm cash markets

(New throughout; updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline,
changes dateline from previous HAMBURG)
By Julie Ingwersen
CHICAGO, March 19 (Reuters) - U.S. corn and wheat futures
closed nearly unchanged on Tuesday, with commodity funds
reluctant to add to a heavy net short position despite pressure
from slowing export demand for U.S. grains, analysts said.
Soybean futures declined as traders awaited news from
ongoing U.S. trade negotiations with China, the world's top
soybean importer.
After the close at the Chicago Board of Trade, a Trump
administration official said U.S. Trade Representative Robert
Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin plan to travel
to China next week for another round of trade talks with Chinese
Vice Premier Liu He.
CBOT May corn settled down 1/4 cent at $3.71-1/4 per
bushel and May wheat ended down 1/4 cent at $4.56-1/2 a
bushel. May soybeans fell 1-3/4 cents at $9.04 a bushel.
Trade in all three commodities was choppy, with futures
trading both sides of unchanged levels.
Corn and wheat fell as traders mulled weak export demand for
U.S. grains amid stiff global competition.
However, large speculators already hold sizable net short
positions in grains and soy, leaving the markets vulnerable to
short-covering rallies - especially as the U.S. spring planting
season approaches, with the risks of planting delays.

"It's a little early to get too excited about (planting
delays), but it definitely is underneath the market. With the
funds sitting on these big short positions, there is no desire
to add to it, and consequently no follow-through to the
downside," said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based U.S.
Farmers in Nebraska, the No. 3 U.S. corn state, are already
struggling with historic flooding, although planting is still a
few weeks away.
One exception to the weak trend in futures was MGEX spring
wheat, which closed higher on firm cash markets. Poor
weather in the northern U.S. Plains, particularly top grower
North Dakota, has curtailed the movement of spring wheat,
bolstering domestic cash bids.
MGEX May spring wheat settled up 4-1/2 cents at
$5.65-1/4 per bushel after reaching $5.68, its highest since
Feb. 22.
"Until the logistical mess gets figured out, there will
probably be a bid under Minneapolis wheat (futures) because it's
tough to move it out of North Dakota," said Joe Nussmeier,
broker at Frontier Futures.

CBOT settlement prices:
Net Pct Volume
Last change change
CBOT wheat WK9 456.50 -0.25 -0.1 51782
CBOT corn CK9 371.25 -0.25 -0.1 143065
CBOT soybeans SK9 904.00 -1.75 -0.2 70920
CBOT soymeal SMK9 310.80 1.00 0.3 47944
CBOT soyoil BOK9 29.24 -0.20 -0.7 47737
NOTE: CBOT May wheat, corn and soybeans shown in cents per
bushel, May soymeal in dollars per short ton and May soyoil in
cents per lb.

(Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen
Thukral in Singapore; editing by Ed Osmond and Sandra Maler)

First Published: 2019-03-19 04:21:01
Updated 2019-03-19 23:50:22

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