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Jun 30, 2014

U.S. Army Corps to close upper Mississippi as waters rise

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Rising flood waters were expected to make 11 locks and dams impassable on the mid- and upper-Mississippi River and force the closure of the river later on Monday from Bellevue, Iowa, to Saverton, Missouri, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said.

The closure would be the most extensive since 2008 on that stretch of the country’s busiest waterway, said Ron Fournier, public affairs officer for the Army Corps’ Rock Island district. At least 80 barge tows are expected to be affected by the closure.

May 30, 2014

Wheat set for biggest monthly drop since 2011 on weather hopes

CHICAGO, May 30 (Reuters) – U.S. wheat eased on Friday to
the lowest in nearly three months, capping the futures’ biggest
monthly decline in almost three years as improving weather for
crops kept the market focused on comfortable global supply.
Corn fell also fell to a roughly three-month low while
soybeans declined on favorable weather forecasts for final
spring sowings and for early crop development in the United
States.
“Generally, the weather for growing conditions is excellent
in most areas,” said Sterling Smith, futures strategist at
Citigroup in Chicago. “If you draw a line from central Nebraska
to central Ohio, there’s a good mix of rain and sunshine for the
next several days.”
Wheat was also pressured by cheaper supplies elsewhere in
the world. The U.S. Agriculture Department showed exports of
wheat last week at a net cancellation of 52,400 tonnes for the
current marketing season, below analysts’ expectations.

“We are pretty noncompetitive globally,” Smith said of U.S.
wheat prices.
Benchmark Chicago Board of Trade July wheat fell 5-1/4
cents to $6.27-1/4 per bushel, lowest since March 4. Wheat
fell about 12 percent for the month for the largest such decline
since September 2011.
July corn eased from earlier gains to shed 3-3/4 cents
at $4.65-3/4 per bushel, lowest since Feb. 28. Futures
snapped a six-month streak of monthly gains for the largest
monthly decline since September of last year.
“The U.S. market is still under the pressure of the
improving weather conditions which enable farmers to end corn
sowing. The wheat crops are benefiting from rains which favor
their development,” French consultancy Agritel said in a note.
The improved crop conditions in the United States come as
countries such as Ukraine and Russia have undercut U.S. shippers
in international markets, despite concern that tensions between
the two countries would disrupt grain trade.
“There is hardly any purchase of U.S. wheat at these levels
so there is potential for more downside in wheat prices,” said
Kaname Gokon, general manager of research at brokerage Okato
Shoji in Tokyo. “We might see the price fall below $6.30 and
then $6.00 a bushel in June.”
Soybeans edged lower as the market continued to weigh up
tight old-crop supply against prospects for large U.S. and
global production this year.
CBOT July soybeans were 5-3/4 cents lower at
$14.93-1/4 per bushel. Soy lost 2.5 percent for the month, the
first monthly decline in four months.

May 29, 2014

Wheat falls 7th day, corn nears 3-mth low on weather

CHICAGO, May 29 (Reuters) – U.S. grains slumped on Thursday,
with wheat futures heading for their seventh straight session of
declines on investor long liquidation tied to favorable weather
for crops and cheaper supplies on offer in Europe and the Black
Sea region.
Wheat futures have fallen sharply from the more than
10-month high they notched early this month amid a deep drought
in the southern U.S. Plains hard red winter wheat belt. But
crop-friendly rains fell over the weekend, while a weekly
weather report early on Thursday showed drought conditions
moderating.
Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures for July delivery
eased 7-1/4 cents to $6.31-1/2 per bushel, the lowest in about
three months. Wheat on a continuous chart was on track to
shed about 11.5 percent this month for the worst such
performance since September 2011.
Corn futures for July delivery were down 4-1/2 cents
at $4.68 per bushel as of 11:46 a.m. CDT (1646 GMT). Corn was
hovering just above the near three-month low notched in the
previous session.
Showers were lingering in the Midwestern crop belt, while
further precipitation forecast next week should benefit recently
planted corn seeds, the Commodity Weather Group said in a note.
The weekly U.S. Drought Monitor showed a slight expansion of
abnormally dry areas in the Midwest even as the most severe
drought conditions eased in the Plains.
“The reality is hitting the market,” said Don Roose, analyst
at U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa. “Funds have been
big longs throughout the spring and they’re sitting with a
sizable position in a more favorable weather environment.”
U.S. regulatory data last week showed that speculative
investors, a category that includes hedge funds, reduced their
long bullish bets in corn for a third straight week and switched
to a net short, or bearish, position on wheat futures.
The better conditions in the United States come as countries
such as Ukraine have undercut U.S. shippers in international
markets.
“Ukraine is selling wheat in our backyard to Mexico. We have
Europe beating everyone to the punch. The competition is keen,”
Roose added.
CBOT July soybean futures edged 1-3/4 cents higher to
$14.99-1/2 per bushel, boosted by snug supplies and strong bids
by domestic processing plants.
“Soybeans are getting a boost from tight U.S. stocks,” said
Andrew Woodhouse, a grains analyst at Advance Trading
Australasia. “Crush margins in China have improved over the last
couple of weeks, before which soybean cargoes were being
diverted from South America to the U.S.”
China has more than 5 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans on the
books for 2014/15, on its way to an estimated 72 million tonnes
from all suppliers for the year. It now represents about two
thirds of global soybean imports.

Prices at 11:46 a.m. CDT (1646 GMT)

LAST NET PCT YTD
CHG CHG CHG
CBOT corn 468.00 -4.50 -1.0% 10.9%
CBOT soy 1499.50 1.75 0.1% 14.2%
CBOT meal 498.30 -0.20 0.0% 13.8%
CBOT soyoil 39.41 -0.22 -0.6% 1.5%
CBOT wheat 631.50 -7.25 -1.1% 4.3%
CBOT rice 1504.00 -1.00 -0.1% -3.0%
EU wheat 191.75 -0.75 -0.4% -8.3%

May 27, 2014

Corn, wheat hit near 3-month low on improved crop weather

CHICAGO, May 27 (Reuters) – U.S. grain futures fell more
than 1 percent on Tuesday, with corn and wheat hitting roughly
three-month lows, as favorable crop conditions and signs of
easing tensions in major export hub Ukraine sparked investor
long liquidation, traders said.
Bull spreading in Chicago Board of Trade corn <O#C:> and
soybean futures <0#S:> saw new-crop contracts posting larger
declines than nearby contracts, reflecting forecasts for mostly
dry conditions for planting in the U.S. Corn Belt.
Analysts on average expected the U.S. Agriculture Department
in a report due late on Tuesday to say farmers caught up on corn
and soybean sowings after a slow start to the spring planting
season.
“We’re definitely taking the concern off this market about
planting progress, especially given the forecast. We have a very
good forecast for very good potential yields this year,” said
Rich Nelson, an analyst at Allendale Inc.
Most-active July corn futures fell 6-3/4 cents to
$4.71-1/4 per bushel, the lowest level since March 4. New-crop
December corn shed 8-1/2 cents to $4.66-3/4.
Soybeans for July delivery were down 23-3/4 cents to
$14.91-3/4, while November beans were down 24 cents at
$12.41-3/4 as of 10:38 a.m. CDT (1538 GMT).
Wheat futures fell for the fifth straight session and for
the 13th time in the past 14 trading sessions as substantial
rainfall in parched areas of the U.S. Plains reinforced the
outlook for a large global crop. Tuesday was the first trading
session this week for U.S. futures after the U.S. Memorial Day
holiday on Monday.
Grain prices overall were also undermined by relief that
there was a decisive outcome in Sunday’s presidential election
in Ukraine, a major grain exporter, despite fighting in
pro-Russian strongholds in the east of the country.
“There is a bearish tone in wheat and corn markets after
elections in Ukraine and there is improved weather in the U.S.
grains belt,” said Kaname Gokon, general manager of research at
brokerage Okato Shoji in Tokyo.
“Rainfall in the south of the U.S. is improving the chances
of a good crop, which should ease the currently tight supply
situation in the U.S., as well as resulting in a further
inventory build worldwide,” Commerzbank analysts said.
The recent slide in international wheat prices has been
reflected in selling by investment funds. Noncommercial traders,
a category that includes hedge funds, switched to a net short
position in CBOT wheat in the week to May 20, regulatory data
released on Friday showed.

Prices at 10:38 a.m. CDT (1537 GMT)

LAST NET PCT YTD
CHG CHG CHG
CBOT corn 471.25 -6.75 -1.4% 11.7%
CBOT soy 1491.75 -23.75 -1.6% 13.7%
CBOT meal 495.40 -7.20 -1.4% 13.2%
CBOT soyoil 40.11 -0.27 -0.7% 3.3%
CBOT wheat 643.25 -9.25 -1.4% 6.3%
CBOT rice 1513.00 -11.50 -0.8% -2.5%
EU wheat 192.25 -0.50 -0.3% -8.0%

May 8, 2014

Barge shipments of Brazil soy bound for U.S. Midwest crushers -trade

CHICAGO, May 8 (Reuters) – Deep discounts for Brazilian
soybeans are creating an unexpected new market with U.S.
processors and animal producers far upstream in the heart of the
Midwest farm belt where the beans will be shipped on barges.

While light soybean imports by U.S. users along the Gulf and
East Coast are not uncommon, it has been nearly two decades
since South American supplies were unloaded at the Louisiana
Gulf and towed up the Mississippi River to inland processors.

Apr 29, 2014

Corn near 3-week high on slow planting; wheat gains

CHICAGO, April 29 (Reuters) – U.S. corn rose more than 1
percent on Tuesday, heading for the third straight session of
gains and nearing a three-week high as rains and cold
temperatures prevented farmers from planting in much of the
Midwestern crop belt, analysts said.
Wheat and soybeans also climbed at the Chicago Board of
Trade as speculative investors made bullish bets tied to adverse
weather conditions in the United States even as crop-friendly
rainfall fell elsewhere in the world.
Corn led the way higher after the U.S. Agriculture
Department in a report released after the close of trading on
Monday said spring plantings were behind schedule and below
analyst expectations.
“The planting figure may be up from last week but it is
still short of the five-year average,” said Vanessa Tan,
investment analyst at Phillip Futures. “The USDA data gives
further evidence of delays to the U.S. planting season this
year.”
U.S. farmers had planted 19 percent of their corn crop as of
April 27, behind the five-year average of 28 percent and the
average analyst estimate of 21 percent. More rains were moving
across the Midwest and southern Delta region on Tuesday,
stalling planting of corn, rice and soybeans until at least the
weekend, meteorologists said.
“If corn was 23-24 percent planted, the trade wouldn’t care
about this week’s weather,” said Mike Zuzolo, analyst at Global
Commodity Analytics in Indiana, adding that the USDA was likely
to report another behind-schedule planting figure next week.
Farmers who cannot plant were turning bullish on grain
prices, forcing ethanol and sweetener makers to bid up in
efforts to entice sales.
“The bull spread is very active. There is a cash pipeline
issue – it’s pretty tight right now,” Zuzolo said of the cash
corn market.
CBOT July corn was up 6-1/4 cents at $5.20 per bushel
while new-crop December futures gained 4-1/2 cents to
$5.14-1/4 as of 11:06 a.m. CDT (1606 GMT).
Most-active CBOT July soybeans were up 12-1/2 cents to
$15.12-1/2.

WHEAT TURNS HIGHER
Wheat futures reversed earlier losses to turn higher as an
annual crop tour of fields started in top wheat-growing state of
Kansas. Early tour reports showed wheat plants partially damaged
from cold and dry weather, with recent rainfall helping to
mitigate drought conditions but coming too late to boost yields.
USDA on Monday reduced the condition of the wheat crop by 1
percentage point, to 33 percent good to excellent. That was well
below the five-year average of 49 percent.
Wheat futures were pressured overnight by showers in growing
regions in Australia and eastern Europe and news that Argentina
authorized an additional 500,000 tonnes in 2013/14 wheat
exports, bringing the official exportable surplus for the season
to 1.5 million tonnes.
CBOT July wheat was up 6 cents to $7.14-1/2 per bushel
while Kansas City Board of Trade July wheat jumped 11
cents, or 1.4 percent, to $7.97-1/2.

Apr 28, 2014

Wheat falls on profit-taking after 2-week high

CHICAGO, April 28 (Reuters) – U.S. wheat fell for the first
time in five sessions on Monday, declining from an earlier
two-week high as investors took profits and meteorologists
forecast crop-friendly rain in Asia, Europe and Australia,
analysts and traders said.
But the top wheat-growing region in the southern U.S. Plains
remained dry, buoying prices for the variety of the grain used
most widely in breadmaking ahead of an annual crop tour in re
Kansas.
“Globally, we’ve had really great weather in a lot of areas
- key rains in Australia, China and the FSU (former Soviet
Union),” said Austin Damiani, an analyst at Frontier Futures in
Minneapolis. “The big picture is that the world wheat prospects
are better today than last week. We still have supply concerns
in the U.S., but Chicago is trying to price in this global
picture.”
Benchmark Chicago Board of Trade wheat for July delivery
eased 1 percent, or 7 cents, to $7.01-1/4 per bushel after
earlier hitting the highest level since April 16. Kansas City
Board of Trade July wheat was down only 3/4 cent at
$7.78-3/4 per bushel as of 11:01 a.m. CDT (1601 GMT).
KCBT wheat reflects the hard red winter wheat grown in the
southern U.S. Plains, an area suffering under severe drought. A
tour of crop fields hosted by the Wheat Quality Council kicks
off on Tuesday in Manhattan, Kansas, and will estimate
production for the HRW wheat crop on Friday.
The CBOT wheat contract is based on soft red winter wheat
grown primarily in the eastern U.S. Midwest and used in crackers
and cakes, but with the highest volume in global wheat
derivatives the contract more closely tracks global trends.
Political tensions between Ukraine and Russia – top grain
shippers from Black Sea ports – also underpinned grain prices.
CBOT July corn edged down 3/4 cent to $5.12 per bushel
after earlier hitting nearly a three-week high while soybeans
for July delivery rose 3-1/4 cents to $14.97-1/2.
U.S. President Barack Obama announced new sanctions against
seven powerful Russians with close ties to President Vladimir
Putin on Monday, freezing assets and imposing visa bans. The
United States also sanctioned 17 Russian companies in reprisal
for Moscow’s actions in Ukraine. The latest sanctions, which
followed measures taken when Russia annexed Crimea last month,
were aimed at dissuading Putin from fomenting a rebellion in
eastern Ukraine. The president said he was holding broader
measures against Russia’s economy “in
reserve”.
“If there is escalation in tensions, it may cut exports from
Ukraine and Russia,” said Vanessa Tan, an investment analyst at
Phillip Futures. “As of now, exports have not been impacted. But
going forward, there is risk as sanctions could bring financing
issues.”
Growing areas in western Australia received widespread
weekend rains while showers were forecast for much of the next
10 days in Europe and FSU crop areas, improving soil moisture
for the wheat and corn crops there, the Commodity Weather Group
said in a note to clients.
Storm systems brought deadly tornadoes that killed at least
16 people in Arkansas, Iowa and Oklahoma. The storms also halted
fieldwork in much of the U.S. Corn Belt, delaying already
behind-schedule spring sowings.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to show in a
report due after the close of trading on Monday corn plantings
at 21 percent complete, below the five-year average pace of 28
percent, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

Soybean seedings were estimated 3 percent planted, below the
normal pace of 5 percent, according to the poll.

Apr 25, 2014

Football players are first college athletes to vote on union

CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Football players at Northwestern University on Friday became the first U.S. student athletes to cast ballots in an election to decide whether to unionize.

The vote, which has the potential to upend college sports, was supervised by the U.S. National Labor Relations Board in a university building near the football field on the Evanston, Illinois, campus.

Apr 24, 2014

U.S. corn shipments hit record high despite China cancellations

April 24 (Reuters) – U.S. exporters last week shipped the
most corn in at least 24 years, government data showed on
Thursday, despite another round of canceled purchases by China
tied to a banned variety of genetically-modified grain.

More than 1.6 million tonnes of corn was loaded for shipment
during the week ended April 17 in the United States, the world’s
largest producer and exporter. That is the highest total in U.S.
Department of Agriculture records dating to 1990.

Apr 9, 2014

Mississippi River traffic may reopen Friday after barge hits Iowa bridge

April 9 (Reuters) – Mississippi River barge traffic could
reopen Friday at the earliest, government officials said on
Wednesday, a day after a barge struck a railroad bridge at
Sabula, Iowa, forcing the closure of a two-mile (3.2 km) stretch
of the country’s busiest waterway.

The U.S. Coast Guard was investigating damage to the
railroad bridge owned by Canadian Pacific Railroad Ltd
while the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers was traveling to the site
to survey the waters for any debris.