CANBERRA/PARIS: Chicago wheat futures were little changed on Thursday in a wait-and-see mode after Russia allegedly dropped explosives in a Black Sea grain shipping route, while traders looked ahead to harvests hit by dry weather in Argentina and Australia.
Soybean prices rose, while corn edged higher.
“The mood is hesitant. The situation in the Black Sea is unclear and so is the state of the crops in the southern hemisphere,” a French trader said.
Ukraine said Russian warplanes dropped “explosive objects” into the likely paths of civilian vessels in the Black Sea three times in the last 24 hours, but its fledgling shipping corridor was still operating.
The lack of buy-in from Russia on the route raises questions about its long-term viability, said Rod Baker at Australian Crop Forecasters, warning that because of this, “volatility does remain”.
The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was down 0.2% at $5.60-1/2 a bushel by 1145 GMT, moving away from September’s three-year low of $5.40.
CBOT soybeans rose 0.7% to $13.23-1/2 a bushel, and corn rose 0.2% to $4.76 a bushel.
After months of huge shipments, Russian agricultural consultancy Sovecon on Wednesday lowered its forecast for Russia’s 2023/24 wheat exports to 48.8 million metric tons from 49.2 million tons.
Concerns of dry weather reducing yields in late-harvesting exporters Argentina and Australia have helped put a floor under prices. Rain in both countries has stabilised crops, but damage has already occurred.
Argentine farm exports brought in $743.5 million in October, down 25% from the same month last year, an industry group said, confirming the impact of drought.
Turning to corn, commodity brokerage StoneX raised its US 2023 crop estimate to 15.302 billion bushels from 15.282 billion bushels but reduced its projection for Brazil’s 2023/2024 crop to 128 million metric tons from 138.11 million.
CBOT corn is near September’s 33-month low of $4.68 as the ongoing US harvest adds to supply and weather forecasts in cropping areas in South America improve.
For soybeans, StoneX lowered its forecast for US production on Wednesday to 4.162 billion bushels from 4.175 billion but raised its outlook for Brazil’s 2023/24 crop to 165 million tons from 164.1 million tons, saying some farmers there were switching to summer soybeans from corn.