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Corn down for fifth straight session on US ethanol plan

imageSYDNEY: US corn futures fell for a fifth straight session on Monday as a proposal to lower the federal target for US 2014 biofuel use, including corn-based ethanol, weighed on prices.

Wheat rose for the first time in three sessions on bargain buying, while soybeans were flat after losses of 2.5 percent in the previous session.

Chicago Board of Trade December corn futures fell 0.6 percent to $4.19-1/2 a bushel, having closed down 1 percent on Friday.

The grain has come under pressure in recent weeks, with the spot contract falling in 12 of the last 14 sessions. Corn hit a three-year low of $4.15-1/2 a bushel in the week before last.

The fresh drop was caused by a proposal of the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which slashed federal requirements for US biofuel use in 2014.

"The corn weakness can be attributed to the EPA proposal," said Luke Mathews, commodities strategist at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

"Outside of that we do need to recognise that the 2013/14 harvest has replenished global supplies. Even without the EPA announcement, there is little reason for the corn market to show strength at the moment."

The EPA did not propose a specific 2014 volume for ethanol made from corn. But the proposed change in advanced biofuels implies a corn ethanol mandate of 12.7 billion to 13.2 billion gallons, down from the previous 2014 mandate of 14.4 billion gallons.

January soybeans were little changed at $12.80-3/4 a bushel, after their losses on Friday. Soybeans had slid under pressure from weak cash markets, traders said, despite slightly lower private US planting estimates.

Informa on Friday estimated next year's US soybean plantings at a record-high 83.8 million acres, below the firm's previous forecast of 83.9 million but still up from 76.5 million seeded in 2013.

December wheat rose 0.6 percent to $6.48-1/4 a bushel, having closed down slightly in the previous session.

Wheat firmed on bargain buying, analysts said, brushing off pressure from disappointing export figures on Friday.

The US Department of Agriculture said US wheat export sales of 287,900 tonnes were well below expectations.

Copyright Reuters, 2013


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