CHICAGO — US corn futures hit life-of-contract highs on Thursday, supported by tightening global grain supplies and an uncertain production outlook as the Russia-Ukraine war continued to rattle markets, analysts said.
However, trade was choppy and deferred corn contracts finished lower as traders took profits ahead of a three-day holiday weekend. US markets will be closed on Good Friday.
Soybeans ended mixed, with the most-active May and July contracts settling higher. But wheat futures fell after a four-session climb.
Chicago Board of Trade May corn settled up 6-3/4 cents at $7.90-1/4 per bushel after posting a contract high at $7.93. New-crop December corn, representing the 2022 harvest, ended down 1/2 cent at $7.35- 1/4.
CBOT May soybeans settled up 6-1/4 cents at $16.82-1/4 a bushel, while May wheat finished down 17 cents at $10.96-1/2 a bushel.
For the week, CBOT May corn rose 2.8%, May wheat rose 4.3% and May soybeans fell 0.4%.
Traders will be monitoring weather forecasts over the long weekend following a cool spring in the US Midwest that has raised fears of planting delays. The US Department of Agriculture said the corn crop was 2% seeded as of April 10, behind the five-year average of 3%.
“It looks like there is going to be a planting window later next week in some of the eastern Corn Belt, so maybe we get some planters rolling,” said Dan Cekander, president of DC Analysis.
Worries about a truckers’ strike in Argentina lent support to futures. Talks to end the strike failed on Wednesday, raising a threat to corn and soy exports during the South American harvest season.
Argentina’s grains export chamber said the failure to reach an agreement would ‘severely harm’ exporters in the world’s top shipper of soy products and no. 2 supplier of corn.
Wheat futures fell on profit-taking, turning lower after the CBOT May contract hit a three-week high in early moves. But worries about the crisis in Ukraine, along with drought in the US Plains winter wheat belt, underpinned prices.
The war between Russia and Ukraine, both major producers and exporters of grains, rages on, bolstering global cereal prices.
“Markets remain extremely nervous, with a risk that the conflict between Ukraine and Russia will drag on,” French consultancy Agritel said in a note. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; Additional reporting by Hallie Gu and Dominique Patton in Beijing and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, David Holmes, Grant McCool and Shinjini Ganguli)