Corn Futures Fall as Crop Report Looms; Soy Lifts

By Jesse Newman

CHICAGO–Corn futures declined Tuesday, pressured by expectations that federal forecasters will boost their outlook for U.S. output and supplies in a coming crop report.

Meanwhile, wheat was mixed while soybean prices rose.

Corn prices dropped as traders awaited a monthly supply-and-demand report due out from the government on Friday which is widely expected to project a record harvest this year and raise estimates for domestic stockpiles. Benevolent Midwest weather has benefited the nation’s corn crop during the summer growing season this year, with corn conditions above last year’s ratings for the same time period despite a slight deterioration last week, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Corn futures for September delivery fell 3 cents, or 0.9%, to $3.22 1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. Prices for the grain have recently been hovering near two-year lows.

While export demand for U.S. corn has been solid and is expected to be robust next year, market watchers worry that a historic U.S. corn harvest could offset interest from foreign importers.

“U.S. corn export shipments are expected to be strong in the year ahead,” adding to good demand from livestock producers and ethanol makers, said Arlan Suderman, of brokerage INTL FCStone. But “traders fear that the U.S. corn crop may still be large enough to overwhelm that demand, particularly with large domestic and global supplies of feed wheat.” Wheat is often used as a substitute for corn in animal feed.

Meanwhile, nearby wheat futures were flat, shored up by crop shortfalls in the European Union, a major grain producer. But later-dated contracts slid, weighed down by harvest progress in the U.S. southern Plains, where farmers are nearly finished collecting a bumper crop of winter wheat. Expectations that the USDA will largely maintain its estimate for big U.S. grain production in the 2016-17 season, as well as lift its forecast for domestic inventories next season also buffeted prices for the grain.

CBOT September wheat was unchanged. December-dated futures slipped 2 cents, or 0.5%, to $4.36 3/4 a bushel. Wheat prices have recently been trading near 10-year lows.

Soybean futures rose, bolstered by fresh signs of buying from foreign importers. The USDA on Tuesday said private exporters booked sales of 120,000 metric tons of soybeans for delivery to unknown destinations during the 2016-17 crop year. The announcement is the 10th in a row in as many days, according to analysts, with continued export demand expected to help drain domestic reserves.

Still, mostly nonthreatening weather forecasts for August and anticipation that U.S. farmers will reap a record harvest of the oilseeds this year capped gains in the market.

CBOT August soybeans gained 3 1/4 cents, or 0.3%, to $10.22 a bushel.

Write to Jesse Newman at jesse.newman[a]wsj.com

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