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 CHICAGO: US corn futures fell 2 percent on Friday, notching their first weekly decline in five weeks as the market lost favor with investors after another downbeat outlook from Goldman Sachs.

Futures also declined on talk that hog feeders in the US Southeast were importing Canadian feed wheat as a substitute for corn. Long-liquidation of the spot May contract also pressured that contract, as investors rolled long holdings of May into the new-crop December and other months.

Analysts cited substantial profit-taking of bull spreads in corn (May/Dec) and profit-taking of bear spreads in soybeans (Nov/May).

Corn ended the week down 3.7 percent, wheat down 6.6 percent and soybeans down 4.4 percent.

"The big elephant in the room is Goldman and their second recommendation this week to exit commodities. It appears Goldman has lost their bull flavor," said Don Roose, analyst and president of US Commodities, Des Moines, Iowa.

Goldman had been bullish on commodities from last summer through the winter, buying everything from crude oil to corn.

But the influential banking and securities firm on Monday recommended commodity investors take profits, and that knocked down everything from crude oil to grains. On Friday the firm recommended investors underweight commodities over a three- to six-month horizon, saying oil prices are higher than justified by supply and demand.

Wheat and soybeans fell early on the Goldman advice but turned positive in choppy trade on positioning and bargain hunting ahead of the weekend.

Corn was weak relative to soy and wheat since there had been a larger buildup of long positions in the corn market during corn's 25 percent rise this year to a record peak on Monday.

CBOT May corn was down 12-1/4 cents per bushel at $7.42, May wheat was up 3-3/4 cents at $7.44-1/4 and May soybeans were up 3/4 cent at $13.31-3/4.

FUNDAMENTALS TURNING BEARISH?

Prospects for the tightest corn stocks in the United States since the 1930s had driven the corn market to a record highs, most recently on Monday. But some traders and analysts caution that global production of feed grains and oilseeds is on the rise, which could put pressure on futures markets.

"Fundamentals have turned bearish. Australia's wheat crop was up, South America had a big crop harvest so global production has improved," Roose said.

Markets are expected to remain volatile next week because of harsh weather in the United States.

A drought has been stressing the hard red winter wheat crop in the US Plains as it enters its critical growth period, but some rain is beginning to move into the region.

There were concerns that many US farmers face delays in sowing corn because of excessively wet fields. The US corn crop must be planted from roughly mid-April through early May to achieve the best yields, and delays into mid-May or later can reduce the crop's potential.

"That leaves weather as a wild card and it doesn't look like there will be much corn planted for at least 10 days. We're not off to a fierce fast pace," Roose said.

US farmers were expected to plant the second largest land area to corn since 1944.

Copyright Reuters, 2011

 

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