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Corn, wheat prices close down

Updated: 03/14/2012 @ 1:57pm

DES MOINES, Iowa (Agriculture.com)--With slow trade volume, the CME Group corn and wheat markets closed lower, while soybeans closed only slightly higher Wednesday. 

The May corn futures closed 3 1/4 cents lower at $6.58 3/4. The May soybean contract finished 1 1/2 cents higher at $13.50 1/2. The May wheat futures closed 6 1/2 cents lower at $6.81. The May soymeal futures settled $1.10 per short ton higher at $367.20. The May soyoil futures closed $0.07 lower at $54.80.
In the outside markets, the NYMEX crude oil is $0.72 per barrel lower, the dollar is higher and the Dow Jones Industrials are up 1 point.

Today's farm market trade is slow, one CME Group floor trader, requesting anonymity says. "It's a very slow trade. Pretty typical of a softer market. When we are up it trades," the floor trader says. 

The U.S. ethanol production has dropped to a five-month low, but stockpiles remain large, the Energy Information Agency reported Wednesday.

In its weekly ethanol production report, EIA reports output of 892,000 barrels/day in week ended March 9, down from 906,000 the prior week. 

Weekly ethanol production is down 7.3% from start of the year. This is the slowest pace since October, the report says.

Ethanol stockpiles are estimated at 22.0 million barrels, down slightly from 22.1 million a week ago, but up 23% since start of the year.

Tim Hannagan, PFGBest.com senior grain analyst, says the common trade thought in ethanol is that summer high driving lies ahead, along with gasoline, crude oil and ethanol usage highs. 

"It's Wednesday and the crude oil inventory report was slightly bearish pulling crude and corn lower. But, we hit a 36-cent high in corn yesterday, off last Thursday's low. So, profit-taking was in order today. Higher prices lie ahead, Hannagan says. "We need a close over $6.66, basis May. And, $6.84 is next, while $6.48 is a low objective for the week," Hannagan says. 

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