Funds extend optimism in CBOT corn ahead of USDA data -Braun

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (Reuters) -Speculators seemed to be headed for the exits on their bullish Chicago grain and oilseed views a month ago as exports were set to resume from Ukraine’s seaports and U.S. crops appeared satisfyingly large.

But those selling plans largely stopped in late July after CBOT corn and soybeans touched their lowest levels since late 2021, and Friday’s data from the U.S. government seems to support that hesitation, at least in corn.

Most-active CBOT corn futures rose more than 4% in the latest three sessions, on Friday posting their highest settle since June 29 at $6.42-1/4 per bushel. That follows more than 3% gains in the week ended Aug. 9, during which speculators raised their net long for a second consecutive week.

Money managers’ new position of 142,062 corn futures and options contracts was a rise of more than 12,000 on the week and mostly the result of new longs. That compares with a net long of 254,044 in the same week last year.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s August estimate for U.S. corn yield came in below the average trade guess for a second straight year, and the recent and expected dry weather pattern is probably not lifting hopes for a sizable increase going forward.

CBOT soybeans ended higher on Friday despite a larger-than-expected U.S. yield, capping off a nearly 2% rise over the last three sessions. Friday’s settle of $14.54-1/4 per bushel is beans’ highest finish since July 29.

Money managers added 2,000 contracts to their CBOT soybean net long in the week ended Aug. 9, bringing it to 101,509 futures and options contracts, a one-month high and above the year-ago 91,648.

Light open interest has been prominent in CBOT wheat this year, a 13-year low for the date as of Aug. 9, though soybeans and corn are also unimpressive in futures and options at 11- and five-year lows, respectively.

Recent CBOT wheat trading volumes have been distinctly lower than in previous years, though corn and soy volumes have been closer to average, at best.

Through Aug. 9, money managers marked their 12th week of selling in CBOT wheat futures and options, expanding their net short by nearly 5,400 contracts to 20,348 despite a small rise in futures. Gross wheat shorts reached their highest levels since late February, just before Russia invaded Ukraine.

USDA’s view on 2022-23 world wheat supplies was little changed from last month, and price action in CBOT wheat was uneventful on Friday with a close at $8.06 per bushel. Trade sources suggest fund activity on Friday was relatively light for a USDA report day across CBOT wheat, corn, soy and soy products.

Through Friday, a total of 14 grain ships had departed Ukraine seaports since the first one on Aug. 1, including the first cargo of wheat on Friday, albeit small.

Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.

Writing by Karen BraunEditing by Matthew Lewis