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Weather, tight supplies buoy corn futures

05/02/2013 @ 2:54pm

U.S. corn futures ended higher Thursday, lifted by tight near-term domestic supplies and by concerns about spring planting delays.

Corn futures for near-term delivery climbed to a five-week high, supported by strong cash prices, especially in the western Midwest. Futures for delivery later in the year were bolstered by weather forecasts indicating that planting delays for U.S. corn growers could continue through early next week.

Chicago Board of Trade corn for May delivery settled up 15 3/4 cents, or 2.3%, at $6.97 1/2 a bushel. The most actively traded July contract finished up 15 1/4 cents, or 2.4% at $6.62. The December corn contract settled up 8 1/2 cents, or 1.5%, to $5.59.

"We are seeing cash prices strengthen in the western Corn Belt, reflective of processors and ethanol plants scrambling to get near-term coverage," said Jerry Gidel, chief feed grain analyst with advisory firm Rice Dairy in Chicago.




Strong demand is keeping corn basis bids firm, particularly with production of corn-based ethanol increasing in the previous two weeks. Basis refers to the gap between cash prices and futures.

U.S. ethanol production rose 0.5% to 857,000 barrels a day in the week through last Friday, adding to an increase the prior week and reaching the highest level since June last year, data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration showed Wednesday.

Meanwhile, "new crop" futures, or contracts that represent corn that will be harvested in the fall, were boosted by planting delays across the Midwest.

"Forecasts showing more moisture in the Midwest through the weekend are raising concerns about the ability of farmers to seed this year's crop in time for optimal production potential," Mr. Gidel said.

"The heart of the Corn Belt will see further planting delays through early next week," said Drew Lerner, president of World Weather Inc. a private weather forecasting firm. The combination of cool and wet weather will halt planting progress through the weekend, especially in the western Corn Belt, Mr. Lerner said.

Only 5% of the U.S. corn crop was planted as of Sunday, well below the five-year average of 31%, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said earlier this week.

Wheat futures settled higher, fueled by concerns about crop damage from droughts and freezing weather in the southern Plains and worries about planting delays for spring-wheat crops in the northern Plains.

Traders are anticipating the Wheat Quality Council will confirm the traders' views of winter-wheat crop losses in the Great Plains when it reports the findings from its annual crop tour Thursday afternoon.

May wheat futures ended up 8 1/4 cents, or 1.2%, at $7.18 3/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. Kansas City Board of Trade May wheat rose 8 cents, or 1%, to $8.02 1/4 a bushel. MGEX May wheat finished up 10 1/4 cents, or 1.2%, at $8.40 1/4 a bushel.

U.S. soybean futures ended mixed Thursday, with contracts reversing early gains as traders took profits on prior gains.

Chicago Board of Trade soybeans for May delivery settled up 3 1/2 cents, or 0.2%, at $14.41 a bushel. Most-active July futures finished down 3/4 cents, or 0.05% at $13.72 1/4. The November soybean contract settled down 5 1/4 cents, or 0.4%, to $12.04.


Write to Andrew Johnson Jr. at andrew.johnsonjr@dowjones.com
Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
May 02, 2013 15:22 ET (19:22 GMT)
DJ UPDATE: U.S. Corn Futures Climb on Tight Supplies, Planting Delays->copyright


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