January 30, 2014 / 12:00 PM / 4 years ago

GRAINS-Corn rises most in three weeks on big US export sales

* U.S. corn exports of 1.8 mln tonnes a marketing year high
    * Wheat exports most since September, topping expectations
    * Soybeans bounce after hitting 2-1/2 month low

    By Michael Hirtzer
    CHICAGO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures jumped 1.4
percent for their largest gains in about three weeks on Thursday
after government data showed larger-than-expected export sales,
analysts said.
    Soybean and wheat also rose at the Chicago Board of Trade,
rebounding from recent lows amid strong weekly export sales
results for the crops in a U.S. Agriculture Department report.
    CBOT March corn settled 6 cents higher at $4.33-1/2
per bushel, touching the highest level in two weeks and closing
in on their first two-month streak of gains in 1-1/2 years. 
    "We were the cheapest corn in the world, just below Ukraine,
and it certainly showed up in the export sales," said U.S.
Commodities analyst Don Roose. "Bull spreads have been working
on corn, so the market told you we were fighting for value."
    U.S. exporters sold 1.8 million tonnes of corn last week,
the largest amount in the current 2013/14 marketing season. Top
global corn buyer Japan purchased 797,800 tonnes of the grain,
USDA data showed. 
    The dip in prices earlier this month to the lowest level in
3-1/2 years has made corn more competitive in global markets
even as the strong demand has lifted futures by more than 6
percent since hitting the low watermark on Jan. 10.
    "We're in a market that's moving to the top of the trading
range - there's a little resistance all the way," Roose added.
    Corn futures hit a session high of $4.34-1/2 before hitting
resistance at their 100-day moving average.
    CBOT March soybeans finished 5-3/4 cents higher at
$12.75 per bushel, a gain of 0.5 percent after earlier trading
as low as $12.60. Soybeans ran into resistance at their 200-day
moving average.
    U.S. soybean exports of 494,800 tonnes were below analyst
expectations in a Reuters poll but some traders were bracing for
a net negative result as importers "switch" supplies to Brazil.
    "I did math on switches versus unknown cancellations, and it
came out to minus 56,000 tonnes, which is essentially one cargo.
It wasn't a big stampede, like some people were trying to claim
last week," said Doane Advisory Services soy analyst Bill
    The surge in corn futures coupled with the positive export
results helped lift soy futures from their 2-1/2 month low
notched early in the trading session amid harvest in Brazil.
    "We are going to see increasing availability of South
American (soy) supplies in the coming weeks which is going to
relieve the near-term supply tightness," said Luke Mathews,
commodities strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
    In Brazil, strong yields in the country's top soy-growing
state Mato Grosso should guarantee a record harvest for the
country in the 2013/14 crop year. 
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture attache in Brazil on
Tuesday estimated the 2013/14 soybean crop there at 89.5 million
tonnes, above the USDA's official forecast of 89 million tonnes
and sharply up from 81.6 million tonnes last year.
    CBOT March wheat firmed by 2 cents to $5.53-1/2 per
bushel, recovering somewhat after hitting the lowest level since
July 2010 in the previous session. 
    Dan Cekander, analyst at Newedge USA, said, the strength in
wheat was "subdued after yesterday's weak technical action."
    "It's hard to generate enthusiasm there," he said.
    U.S. exports of all varieties of wheat totalled 794,900
tonnes, the largest since September and above the high end of
analyst estimates that ranged from 300,000 to 500,000 tonnes.
 Prices at 3:15 p.m. CST (2115 GMT)      
                              LAST      NET    PCT     YTD
                                        CHG    CHG     CHG
 CBOT corn                  433.50     6.00   1.4%    2.7%
 CBOT soy                  1275.00     5.75   0.5%   -2.9%
 CBOT meal                  425.20     1.90   0.5%   -2.9%
 CBOT soyoil                 37.07    -0.03  -0.1%   -4.5%
 CBOT wheat                 553.50     2.00   0.4%   -8.6%
 CBOT rice                 1542.50    -2.50  -0.2%   -0.5%
 EU wheat                   190.50     0.50   0.3%   -8.9%
 US crude                    97.91     0.55   0.6%   -0.5%
 Dow Jones                  15,849      110   0.7%   -4.4%
 Gold                      1242.61   -25.18  -2.0%    3.1%
 Euro/dollar                1.3548  -0.0113  -0.8%   -0.8%
 Dollar Index              81.0900   0.5850   0.7%    1.3%
 Baltic Freight               1127      -21  -1.8%  -50.5%
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