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Prices ease after surge to multi-year highs

  • Corn falls after near eight-year highs.
  • Soybeans, wheat also ease after near seven-year peaks.
  • Fund flows contributed to daily limit gains on Thursday.
  • Weather risks, China demand keep focus on global supply.
Published April 23, 2021
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PARIS/SINGAPORE:- Chicago corn, wheat and soybeans fell on Friday but were set for big weekly gains after weather-fuelled supply concerns supported multi-year highs.

Adverse growing weather in North and South America has focused attention on tightening availability of grain, encouraging investment fund buying that supported daily-limit gains for some Chicago contracts on Thursday.

The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was down 1.0% at $6.25 a bushel by 1131 GMT.

It earlier rose to $6.35, its highest since June 2014 and over the week was up 6.7%, heading for a fourth weekly rise.

CBOT soybeans ticked down 0.2% to $15.10-3/4 after climbing on Thursday to $15.24, its highest since May 2014.

Wheat also eased back after a near seven-year peak a day earlier, trading down 1.2% at $7.02 a bushel.

Soybeans were up 5.4% so far this week and wheat 7.2%.

Analysts say fund flows and short-covering in the run-up to the expiry of May futures amplified gains this week.

"The long positions held in corn are unprecedented, and could be reversed at any time, which would lead to a sharp drop in prices if weather conditions improve," consultancy Agritel said.

A US cold spell this week and dryness in Brazil have raised doubts about corn harvest prospects in the world's two biggest exporters of the feed grain at a time of growing Chinese import demand.

Harvest expectations in No. 3 corn exporter Argentina, however, have risen due to good conditions in Cordoba province.

Wheat is seen as having more comfortable global supplies, but tensions in corn are expected to spark more use of wheat in feed.

Chinese buyers are thought to have booked at least half a million tonnes of new-crop French wheat, which may be partly used in feed, traders said.

Commenting on the corn market, Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said: "The ongoing issues of China's demand and Brazil's supply continue to boost the market."

"Added to that are signs that US ethanol demand (is) recovering," he said.

Biofuel demand has also contributed to tensions in oilseed markets, which supply feedstocks for biodiesel.

Front-month CBOT soybean oil extended gains on Friday to 63.5 cents per lb, another highest in almost 13 years.

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