CHICAGO: US corn futures fell for a third straight session on Friday, with the benchmark July contract hitting a two-week low on fund-driven long liquidation amid easing concerns about dwindling supplies, analysts said.
Soybean and wheat futures were modestly higher after paring early advances.
As of 1:15 p.m. CDT (1815 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade July corn futures were down 30 cents at $6.44-3/4 per bushel. July soyabeans were up 2 cents at $15.86 a bushel and July wheat rose 6-1/4 cents to $7.07-3/4.
Corn fell more than 4% and was on track to post a weekly decline of 12% - its first retreat in seven weeks - as traders focused on this week's bigger-than-expected supply outlook from the US Department of Agriculture.
The USDA report, coupled with jitters in financial markets over inflation, fuelled selling after corn's eight-year peak last week. Commodity funds hold a massive net long position in CBOT corn futures, leaving the market prone to bouts of long liquidation.
"I just think the specs have more selling to do. It may take weather (problems) to get this market going again," said Jack Scoville, analyst with the Price Futures Group in Chicago.
The market shrugged off the USDA's confirmation of private sales of 1.36 million tonnes of new-crop US corn to China, the latest in a series of corn sales announcements in recent days.
Scoville said the bookings, for delivery in the 2021/22 marketing year that begins Sept. 1, 2021, suggest China may be done buying old-crop US corn, which is scarce as supplies dwindle ahead of the autumn harvest.
Meanwhile, private analytics firm IHS Markit Agribusiness projected US 2021 corn plantings at 96.8 million acres, up significantly from the USDA's current forecast of 91.1 million acres.
Corn and soya futures drew light support from news that the Mississippi River reopened to vessel traffic near Memphis, Tennessee, ending a shutdown of part of the waterway that caused a backlog of more than 1,000 barges loaded with grain, oil and other goods.
For wheat, traders were weighing harvest prospects in the northern hemisphere, with forecasts calling for limited rain in parts of Russia and raising some concerns despite forecasts this week pointing to a bumper harvest. Rains expected in the southern US Plains could boost winter wheat there, although dryness in northern spring wheat zones remained a risk, analysts said.