SINGAPORE: Chicago wheat futures edged higher on Thursday, recouping some of the previous session’s losses but pressure from expectations of higher sea-borne grain exports from Ukraine curbed gains.
Corn lost ground, falling for the first time in four sessions, while soybeans ticked higher, although higher US production and weakening Chinese demand limited gains.
“More ships are leaving Ukraine ports. For now these ships are still the backlog stranded in port since Russia invaded Ukraine,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
“While this is good news, the major question for the wheat market is just how much grain will be able to leave via this export corridor.”
The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) added 0.3% to $7.78-1/4 a bushel, as of 0426 GMT.
Corn fell 0.2% to $6.08-3/4 a bushel and soybeans gained 0.2% to $14.11-1/4 a bushel. Ukraine could start exporting wheat from this year’s harvest from its sea ports in September under a landmark deal brokered by Turkey and the United Nations, Ukraine’s first deputy minister of agriculture said.
Four more ships carrying almost 170,000 tonnes of corn and other foodstuffs sailed from Ukrainian Black Sea ports on Sunday under the deal to unblock the country’s exports.
The United Nations and Turkey brokered the agreement last month after warnings that the halt in grain shipments caused by the conflict could lead to severe food shortages and even outbreaks of famine in parts of the world.
Russia will downgrade its forecast for grain exports in the 2022/23 July-June season from the current 50 million tonnes if its harvest fails to reach the target of 130 million tonnes, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.
The pace of crop harvesting in Russia, the world’s largest wheat exporter, is currently slower than the ministry expected due to a cold spring leading to a late start, as well as rain and a lack of spare parts for foreign agricultural equipment, it said.
Higher production forecasts and dwindling Chinese demand weighed on soybeans. Private analytics firm IHS Markit Agribusiness forecast 2022 soybean production of 4.530 billion bushels, with an average yield of 51.8 bushels per acre.
Both the yield and production forecasts were bigger than the July estimates from US Department of Agriculture.
China’s soybean imports in July fell 9.1% from a year earlier, customs data showed on Sunday, as poor crushing margins and weaker consumption in the world’s largest buyer of the oilseed reduced appetite for shipments.
China brought in 7.88 million tonnes of the oilseed in July, versus 8.67 million tonnes a year earlier, data from the General Administration of Customs showed on Sunday.
Large speculators raised their net long position in CBOT corn futures in the week to Aug. 2, regulatory data released on Friday showed.
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s weekly commitments of traders report also showed that non-commercial traders, a category that includes hedge funds, increased their net short position in CBOT wheat and raised their net long position in soybeans.