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Grains trade mixed without USDA input

Jeff Caldwell 10/08/2013 @ 6:47am Multimedia Editor for Agriculture.com and Successful Farming magazine.

The grains are mixed heading into Tuesday's trade, riding the tails of a mixed trade in Europe and struggling to find any upward momentum in the lack of government crop reports on which the trade depends for pricing direction.

As of 6:30 AM in the overnight trading session, December corn is 1/4 cent lower at $4.49 per bushel, while November soybeans are 5 1/2 higher at $13.02 and December wheat's 4 1/4 higher at $6.99, according to Barchart.com.

Price levels like Tuesday's morning's are indicative of a general lack of domestic direction with USDA shuttered, keeping crop reporting stalled. Europe's prices -- with corn slightly lower and wheat slightly higher, mirror those in the CME Group overnight trade, says Kluis Commodities broker and analyst Al Kluis, but have more influence than they normally would right now on account of the government shutdown. That's especially true right now without USDA's weekly estimates of harvest progress in its Crop Progress reports.

"I think the grain markets will not be able to maintain a sustained rally if the government shutdown continues and the US and global stock markets stay under pressure," Kluis says. "With the USDA shutdown, the normal weekly USDA Crop Progress reports are not available. I estimate they would say reported corn harvest is 20% complete vs. 28% on the five-year average, and soybean harvest at 23% vs. 40% on the five-year average."

Still, other analysts see longer-term potential for higher prices in the absence of USDA reports during the shutdown. "There is just more and more uncertainty in what is happening with the grain market," says Agriculture.com Market Analyst Ray Grabanski. "That is leading to higher prices, as the market drifts higher in grains the longer we go without the government reports."

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