Jan. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Wheat futures jumped the most since mid-October as demand surged in Egypt, the world’s top importer, and a freeze threatened crops in parts of the U.S., the biggest producer. Corn and soybeans rose from eight-week lows.
Today, Egypt bought 535,000 metric tons of French, Romanian, Ukrainian and Russian wheat, more than four times the most-recent tender award. Futures rebounded from a 19-month low after temperatures plunged in the U.S. Great Plains.
“The Egyptian purchases helped to exhaust the selling interest in the wheat market,” Shawn McCambridge, the senior grain analyst at Jefferies Bache LLC in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Prices are cheap enough for some improvement in demand, but it was still a little disappointing that there wasn’t any U.S. business.”
Wheat futures for March delivery rose 1.5 percent to close at $6.0575 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest gain for a most-active contract since Oct. 18. Yesterday, the grain touched $5.95, the lowest for a most-active contract since May 2012.
As much as 20 percent of winter wheat in the Great Plains may be damaged by the freeze, according to MDA Weather Services in Bethesda, Maryland. Temperatures may drop to minus 10 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 23 Celsius) in the next few days in the central and southern Plains and minus 25 degrees in the Midwest.
McCambridge of Jefferies Bache said that the cold weather spurred speculators to unwind bets on a decline, which reached a record in the week ended Dec. 17.
Corn futures for March delivery climbed 0.7 percent to $4.235 a bushel. Earlier, the price touched $4.17, the lowest since Nov. 8.
Soybean futures for March delivery gained 0.1 percent to $12.7125 a bushel. Yesterday, the price touched $12.625, the lowest since Nov. 8.
--Editors: Patrick McKiernan, Thomas Galatola