Grain harvests to exceed last year's?

Wheat fell in Chicago as traders weighed the potential impact of tension between Ukraine and Russia on grain exports from the Black Sea region as officials held talks in Berlin on resolving the crisis. Corn rose.

Russia’s foreign minister said talks on the conflict have not produced a resolution, while his counterpart from Ukraine cited “moderate progress” after meetings that also included officials from France and Germany. Futures rose 1.9% on Aug. 15 after Ukraine said its army destroyed part of a column of military vehicles that crossed the border from Russia, while Vladimir Putin denies any military presence in the country.

Prices were supported last week in “response to fears of the conflict escalating further and affecting wheat supplies from the Black Sea region,” Carsten Fritsch, an analyst at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt, said in an e-mailed note. “The threat is evidently seen to be short-term only.”

Wheat (CBOT:ZWU14) for December delivery fell 1.1% to $5.575 a bushel at 7:30 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, heading for the first decline in three sessions. In Paris, milling wheat for November delivery dropped 1% to 172 euros ($230.20) a metric ton on Euronext.

Wheat prices have declined this year, with the benchmark price in Chicago touching a four-year low on July 29, amid prospects of ample world grain supplies. Both Russia and Ukraine have predicted that harvests this year will exceed last year’s level, and private forecaster UkrAgroConsult said last week it may boost its outlook for Ukraine’s exports. The nations combined will account for a fifth of global wheat exports this year, the U.S. government estimates.

Australian Supply

Prospects also are improving for supplies from Australia, the Southern Hemisphere’s top exporter. Northern regions of New South Wales received as much as 50 millimeters (2 inches) of rain in the week through Aug. 17, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. The state had its driest July since 2002, data showed.

Soybeans (CBOT:ZSQ14) for November delivery were little changed at $10.5225 a bushel in Chicago after dropping 3% last week, the most in a month. Corn (CBOT:ZCU14) for delivery in December added 0.6% to $3.7925 a bushel. Analysts and farmers will assess corn and soybean fields in the U.S. this week and estimate yields during the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop tour starting today.

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