December 18, 2017 / 3:40 AM / 6 months ago

GRAINS-Wheat climbs to one-week high on U.S. weather concerns

    * Chicago wheat futures rise for three of four sessions
    * Concerns about dryness for U.S. winter crop support prices

 (Adds details, quotes)
    By Naveen Thukral
    SINGAPORE, Dec 18 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat futures rose to a one-week high
on Monday, heading for a third session of gains in four, with prices underpinned
by concerns over dry weather hurting the U.S. winter crop.
    Corn slid for a third consecutive session, while soybeans ticked higher
after closing marginally lower on Friday with improved South American weather
weighing on prices.
    "There are concerns about U.S. hard red winter wheat but it is speculative
at the moment," said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist, National Australia
Bank. "We have to wait and see how the crop shapes up."
    The Chicago Board of Trade most-active wheat contract climbed to
$4.22-1/4, highest since Dec. 8. It was trading up 0.7 percent at 4.21-1/4
bushel, as of 0322 GMT.
    Soybeans added 0.2 percent to $9.68-3/4 a bushel and corn lost
0.2 percent to $3.46-3/4 a bushel.
    A combination of delays to autumn planting and dry conditions in the
southern U.S. Plains have left the hard red winter crop vulnerable to freeze
damage, crop experts said, which could further tighten supplies of high-protein
    There was additional support for the wheat market from improved demand. 
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday that private exporters
reported the sale of 130,000 tonnes of soft red winter wheat to unknown
destinations for delivery during the 2017/18 marketing year.
    That followed news earlier last week that U.S. exporters booked a deal to
sell 120,000 tonnes of hard red winter wheat to Algeria.
    Forecasts of rains in parched areas of South America's crop-belt added
pressure on corn and soybeans. 
    Above-normal rainfall is expected across eastern Argentina and southern
Brazil... which should lead to notable improvements in soil moisture, MDA
Weather Services said in a note to clients.
    Private analytics firm Informa Economics raised its forecast of U.S. 2018
soybean plantings to 91.387 million acres, a potential record high, and trimmed
its 2018 corn plantings projection to 89.675 million acres, according to an
Informa client note obtained by Reuters on Friday.
    Informa also lowered its estimate of U.S. winter wheat plantings for harvest
in 2018 to 31.093 million acres, from its month-ago figure of 31.923 million. 
    Large speculators increased their net short position in CBOT corn futures in
the week ended Dec. 12, regulatory data released on Friday showed. 
    The Commodity Futures Trading Commission's weekly commitments of traders
report also showed that non-commercial traders, a category that includes hedge
funds, increased their net short position in CBOT wheat and switched to a net
short position in soybeans.
 Grains prices at 0322 GMT
 Contract    Last    Change  Pct chg  Two-day chg  MA 30   RSI
 CBOT wheat  421.25  3.00    +0.72%   +0.72%       433.79  70
 CBOT corn   346.75  -0.75   -0.22%   -0.50%       354.11  65
 CBOT soy    968.75  1.50    +0.16%   +0.10%       986.83  31
 CBOT rice   11.72   $0.01   +0.09%   +0.00%       $12.02  34
 WTI crude   57.38   $0.08   +0.14%   +0.60%       $57.08  52
 Euro/dlr    $1.176  $0.000  +0.03%   -0.18%               
 USD/AUD     0.7657  0.001   +0.17%   -0.10%               
 Most active contracts
 Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel. Rice: USD per hundredweight
 RSI 14, exponential

 (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sherry
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