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Export sales boost corn futures Thursday

01/30/2014 @ 3:10pm

U.S. corn futures rose to a two-week high Thursday, bolstered by higher-than-expected export sales in a weekly government report. Soybeans and wheat also gained.

Corn rose after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said net export sales of U.S. corn for delivery in the 2013-14 season totaled 1.84 million metric tons in the week through Jan. 23, led by robust orders from Japan. The figure sharply exceeded analyst estimates of 450,000 to 1 million tons.

Corn for March delivery at the Chicago Board of Trade added 6 cents, or 1.4%, to $4.33 1/2 a bushel, the highest closing price since Jan. 13. Futures have tumbled about 40% in the past year, due to a record U.S. harvest in 2013.

The drop in corn prices has triggered increased export demand for U.S. inventories, a positive for a market that otherwise is mostly lackluster, analysts said.

"The corn export number was really good, and exports may continue to outperform," said Joe Vaclavik, president of brokerage Standard Grain Inc. in Chicago. "We're swimming in corn in the U.S., and we need to get rid of it."

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CBOT March soybeans climbed 5 3/4 cents, or 0.5%, to $12.75 a bushel. Export sales were largely positive, but gains in futures were limited by advancing soybean harvests in South America, where big crops are expected this year. Brazil and Argentina are the U.S.'s main rivals in soybean output.

Net export sales of U.S. soybeans for delivery in the 2013-14 season totaled 484,800 tons in the week through Jan. 23, at the high end of analyst forecasts that ranged from 200,000 to 600,000 tons.

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