* Soybeans top $15 for first time since July 2008
* Corn prices surge along with export demand
* Wheat follows corn higher; weak dollar helps
(Adds closing prices, new analyst quote)
By Mark Weinraub
CHICAGO, April 27 U.S. corn and soybean futures
rallied o n F riday on strong export demand, with soy topping the
key threshold of $15 per bushel for the first time in nearly
four years, traders said.
Corn futures led the way higher, adding nearly 5 percent on
heavy buying by investors who had already been concerned about
dwindling supplies of corn in the country before the latest
The U.S. Agriculture Department on Friday morning confirmed
the largest one-day sale of U.S. corn since 1991. The
transaction totalled 1.56 million tonnes, and while the USDA did
not identify the buyer, grain traders said the bulk of it was
bound for China.
"The sales are just a catalyst to spur the buyers into the
market," said Bill Gentry, a broker for Risk Management
The USDA also said exporters had sold 110,000 tonnes of U.S.
soybeans to China and 116,000 tonnes to an unknown destination
for 2012/13 delivery.
Although the bulk of the sales were for new-crop delivery,
the front-month contracts still needed to rally to entice
farmers to loosen their grip on crops they have been holding
since harvest to meet 2011/12 demand.
"Farmers are spending their time planting crops versus
hauling any product," said Mark Schultz, chief market analyst
for Northstar Commodity Investment Co. "The old crop is still
extremely tight and end-users are looking for corn."
Demand for U.S. corn has been particularly hot this week.
The USDA has reported total sales of 2.8425 million tonnes with
prices at two-month lows.
Chicago Board of Trade May soybeans rose 15-1/2 cents
to $14.96-3/4 a bushel. The front-month contract, which traded
above $15 a bushel for much of the session, rose to its highest
level on a continuous basis since July 18, 2008.
CBOT May corn gained 29 cents to $6.53 a bushel,
hitting its highest price since April 9. The May/July corn
spread widened to its highest level ever as tight supplies
prompted traders to bull-spread the market.
May corn surged through key technical resistance at its
50-day and 100-day moving averages during the session.
First notice day for corn deliveries was coming up on
Monday, which contributed to the bullish atmosphere hanging over
the market. Traders, who were expecting zero deliveries of corn,
soybeans and wheat, scrambled to cover short positions ahead of
the delivery period, when the market trades without limits.
"Nobody really wanted to stay short over the weekend," said
Jon Marcus, president of Lakefront Futures and Option. "Nobody
is taking any weekend exposure."
CBOT May wheat ended up 16-1/4 cents at $6.42-1/4 a
bushel, mostly due to spillover support from the corn market.
Soybean prices rose 3.4 percent this week. The front-month
contract, which is on a five-week winning streak, has posted
gains in 10 of the last 11 weeks. The market has put on 9.6
percent during the current winning run.
For the week, CBOT corn rose 6.9 percent and posted its
biggest weekly gain in 11 months. Wheat prices were up 4.1
percent for the week, snapping a three-week losing streak.
Waning expectations for crop production in South America
added further support to prices.
"The soybean market remains well supported," a European
dealer said. "People are continuing to track crop estimates in
South America and the weekly U.S. exports were very decent."
One of Argentina's biggest grains exchanges cut another
million tonnes each off its 2011/12 soy and corn crop forecasts
as poor yields dimmed expectations half-way through harvesting.
The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange reduced its soy harvest
estimate to 43 million tonnes, 13 percent less than last season,
due to the impact of a six-week drought in the world's No. 3
soybean supplier during the height of the Southern Hemisphere
summer in December and January.
Wheat prices also were supported by the International Grain
Council's cut in its 2012/13 global wheat forecast. The IGC
trimmed its outlook by 5 million tonnes to 676 million tonnes.
Prices at 1:52 p.m. CDT (1852 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD
CHG CHG CHG
CBOT corn 624.00 31.50 5.1% -3.5%
CBOT soy 1481.25 14.75 1.0% 23.6%
CBOT meal 427.40 7.80 1.9% 38.1%
CBOT soyoil 55.18 -0.19 -0.3% 5.9%
CBOT wheat 642.25 16.25 2.6% -1.6%
CBOT rice 1498.50 -43.50 -2.8% 2.6%
EU wheat 214.25 3.25 1.5% 5.8%
US crude 104.84 0.29 0.3% 6.1%
Dow Jones 13,242 38 0.3% 8.4%
Gold 1663.30 6.02 0.4% 6.4%
Euro/dollar 1.3255 0.0068 0.5% 2.4%
Dollar Index 78.7340 -0.1850 -0.2% -1.8%
Baltic Freight 1156 8 0.7% -33.5%
(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore, Gus
Trompiz in Paris and Nigel Hunt in London; Editing by Dale
Hudson and Alden Bentley)