Corn Climbs to Seven-Week High on Signs of Demand for U.S. Crop

Feb 03, 2014 3:58 pm ET

Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Corn rose to a seven-week high amid signs of higher demand for supplies from the U.S., the world’s biggest producer and exporter. Soybeans and wheat also gained.

Exporters sold 113,780 metric tons of corn to an unknown destination for delivery by Aug. 31, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today. That follows sales of 370,000 tons to Spain the past two weeks. Accumulated sales for shipment by Aug. 31, before this year’s harvest, doubled to 31.874 million tons as of Jan. 23, compared with a year earlier, the USDA said last week.

“The increase in export sales shows that U.S. corn is competitively priced on the world markets,” Greg Grow, the director of agribusiness for Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview.

Corn futures for March delivery rose 0.4 percent to close at $4.3575 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, after earlier touching $4.3875, the highest for a most-active contract since Dec. 12. Prices gained 2.8 percent in January, the first monthly increase since August.

Futures also got a boost from rising premiums paid for corn delivered to export terminals near New Orleans, Grow said. Shippers paid 82 cents more than the March futures on Jan. 30, the highest since Nov. 27, USDA data show.

Hedge funds and other large speculators reduced their bearish bets on corn, cutting net-short positions by 12 percent to 52,117 futures and options contracts as of Jan. 28, the fourth straight weekly decline, data from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed on Jan. 31.

Soybeans rallied the most in more than two weeks on speculation that dry, warm weather over the next 10 days may reduce yield potential of reproducing crops in Brazil, the biggest exporter of the oilseed, Grow said.

Soybean futures for March delivery advanced 0.8 percent to $12.9275 a bushel in Chicago, the biggest gain since Jan. 15. The price fell 0.8 percent in January as rain boosted yields in parts of South America.

Wheat futures for delivery in March added 1.4 percent to $5.6375 a bushel in Chicago, capping the first three-session gain since Oct. 3.

--With assistance from Rudy Ruitenberg in Paris and Phoebe Sedgman in Melbourne. Editors: Joe Richter, Patrick McKiernan