Saturday, December 10

Corn sags on recession fears, profit-taking after 2-month top

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CHICAGO — US wheat, corn and soybean futures fell on Tuesday, joining broad declines in commodities and equity markets as traders fretted about the health of the global economy.

Profit-taking also weighed on corn futures, a day after the benchmark December contract notched a two-month high linked to declining US crop production prospects.

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The Chicago Board of Trade December corn contract settled down 5-3/4 cents at $6.77-1/4 a bushel, a day after reaching $6.83-3/4, its highest since June 23.

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CBOT December wheat ended down 22-1/2 cents at $8.20-1/4 a bushel and November soybeans fell 5-1/4 cents to settle at $14.32-1/2 a bushel.

Equity markets fell as a rise in US job openings triggered fears of more interest rate hikes in the United States and Europe. US crude oil futures slid more than 5% on fears that an inflation-induced weakening of global economies would soften fuel demand.

The uncertainty spread to grains as speculators exited long positions, booking profits after recent run-ups in corn and wheat prices.

“Fund managers are adjusting their investments to reflect expectations of slower economic growth – and maybe contraction – along with lower demand for commodities,” StoneX chief commodities economist Arlan Suderman wrote in a client note.

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Yet traders are also monitoring supply prospects as the US corn and soybean crops approach maturity ahead of the fall harvest. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) late Monday rated 54% of the US corn crop in good-excellent condition, down from 55% a week earlier.

That came after advisory service Pro Farmer on Friday estimated the US corn yield at 168.1 bushels per acre, well below the USDA’s forecast of 175.4. The Pro Farmer harvest projection followed a four-day Midwest crop tour that showed the effects of hot, dry weather in some areas.

“The market is still absorbing the likely lower US corn crop after last week’s Pro Farmer crop tour revealed a much lower yield estimate,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Pro Farmer predicted a US soybean crop of 4.535 billion bushels, close to the USDA’s August forecast of 4.531 billion bushels. Weekly USDA condition ratings for the soybean crop held steady with 57% rated good-excellent, despite analyst expectations for a downgrade.

Separately, the USDA on Tuesday confirmed private sales of 264,000 tonnes of US soybeans to unknown destinations.

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Subhranshu Sahu and Shailesh Kuber)