Corn prices settled lower on Thursday. Futures were steady to only slightly lower early, but another poor export sales week pushed prices lower. Sales for the current marketing year were only 2 million bushels, one of the poorest sales weeks on record. Export commitments so far in 2012/13 are down 45% from a year ago. With cancelations, weekly new crop sales were actually slightly negative. The market has been waiting on some positive export news, but sales this week were disappointing instead. The Coast Guard cut maximum barge draft on the lower Mississippi River to 9 ft from 10 ft previously due to low water. March corn settled 6 1/4 cents lower at $7.51 1/2. December 2013 was 2 cents lower at $6.43 1/2.
The soybean bull market lives on with the January contract notching double-digit gains for the third time in four sessions. Soybeans extended the bull market on continuing concerns about production risks in Argentina. The Bolsa said progress was only 54% complete this week. USDA’s weekly export sales report found more bean sales than expected. Bearish news was found in the Brazilian government forecast for its crop at 82.6 million tonnes, which is greater than average trade expectations at 81 million. The Brazilian government also had positive comments about the crop progress in general. At the close, January beans were up 12 cents at $14.91 1/4. November 2013 gained 2 3/4 cents at $13.34 3/4.
The bumpy road for wheat continued Thursday. The first two days of the week, wheat was strong most of the day but closed lower. Wednesday it managed to hold its gains and close higher. But today, it was a real teeter totter. It traded higher in early going, then moved to the minus side midsession, but came back to close with small gains. Disappointing export sales this morning were behind the reversal. If Argentina’s woes are going to benefit the U.S. in shifting global export business our way, it had better kick in soon. U.S. export sales year-to-date lag where they “should” be to warrant USDA’s current forecast for 1.1 billion bu. in 2012-13. In fact, the gap widened out another 10 million bu. in this the weekly sales report, to 220 million. But by the close, selling interest dried up as concerns about Argentina’s current crop and next year’s U.S. crop remain supportive factors. At the close, CBOT March was up 2 at $8.62; KCBT March was up 4 1/4 at $9.12, and MGE March was up 3 at $9.35 1/4.