U.S. corn to 7-week high as rain threatens to stall planting

(Updates with closing U.S. prices)
By Julie Ingwersen
CHICAGO, May 16 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures rose on
Thursday for a fourth straight session as dismal weather
forecasts signalled further planting delays in the Midwest,
prompting commodity funds to cover short positions, analysts
Chicago wheat futures hit a one-month high, led by corn, and
soybeans followed the firm trend.
Chicago Board of Trade July corn settled up 9-1/2
cents at $3.79 per bushel, after reaching $3.80-3/4, its highest
since March 29.
CBOT July wheat ended up 18-1/4 cents at $4.67 a
bushel after reaching $4.68-1/2, its highest since April 12, and
July soybeans finished up 4-1/4 cents at $8.39-3/4 a
Corn remained the focus of the market as the outlook for
rain over much of the next 10 days threatened to stall field
work, which is already behind schedule.
"A series of at least three storm systems is expected to
move across the central U.S. over the next 10 days, with a break
of no more than a day or two between each system. This will
provide little time for soils to dry out ... and will severely
limit corn and soybean planting progress," space technology
company Maxar said in a daily weather note.
Farmers had seeded 30% of the U.S. 2019 corn crop by Sunday,
the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Monday, well
behind a five-year average of 66%.
The weather problems come at a time when commodity funds
have built up massive net short positions in corn, soybean and
wheat futures, leaving the markets vulnerable to bouts of
"It's still all (about) weather. You've got the speculative
shorts on the ropes, so the market stays relatively firm," said
Tom Fritz, a partner with EFG Group in Chicago.
Soybeans followed corn higher but gains were capped by
expectations that planting delays could prompt farmers to switch
some acres intended for corn to soybeans. Ample soy inventories
from last season also hung over the market.
"We've got a really big stocks-to-use ratio in beans, so
getting bullish here is a little premature," said Bill Gentry,
managing director of agriculture consulting at Risk Management
CBOT wheat futures posted the biggest gains of the three
grains, but analysts attributed the strength in wheat to
technical strength and short-covering, rather than fresh demand
or threats to supply.
"We had strong inspections on Monday and the weekly (wheat
export sales) data confirmed that, with their shipments. I think
that's probably somewhat supportive, on the demand front. But I
really think all this buying is tied to short-covering and
concern for the corn crop," said Rob Hatchett, senior economist
at Doane Advisory Services.

CBOT settlement prices:
Net Pct Volume
Last change change
CBOT wheat WN9 467.00 18.25 4.1 70419
CBOT corn CN9 379.00 9.50 2.6 235748
CBOT soybeans SN9 839.75 4.25 0.5 97503
CBOT soymeal SMN9 301.90 2.10 0.7 39110
CBOT soyoil BON9 27.72 0.48 1.8 53043
NOTE: CBOT July wheat, corn and soybeans shown in cents per
bushel, July soymeal in dollars per short ton and July soyoil in
cents per lb.

(Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen
Thukral in Singapore; editing by Uttaresh.V and Rashmi Aich;
Editing by Sonya Hepinstall and Sandra Maler)

First Published: 2019-05-16 04:10:03
Updated 2019-05-16 21:53:44

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