Soybeans, Corn, Wheat Slide as Economic Slump May Cut Demand

Soybeans tumbled to the lowest in almost a year and corn and wheat dropped on speculation that demand for the crops will shrink as the global economy falters, while the accelerating U.S. harvest boosts supplies.

The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index of equities was poised to enter a bear market today after sliding more than 20 percent from the peak this year on concern that European leaders may need to renegotiate Greece’s bailout. About 21 percent of the U.S. corn crop and 19 percent of the soybeans were harvested as of Oct. 2, boosting supplies for makers of food, fuel and animal feed.

“We have some harvest pressure, we have some weaker demand, we’ve got a stronger dollar, and we’ve got a weakening global economy,” Frank Cholly Sr., a senior market strategist at MF Global Holdings Inc., said by telephone from Chicago. “There are definitely a lot of negative forces at play all at the same time.”

Soybean futures for November delivery dropped 17.5 cents, or 1.5 percent, to settle at $11.60 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. Earlier, the price touched $11.52, the lowest for a most-active contract since Oct. 11, 2010. The oilseed is down 17 percent this year.

The U.S. Dollar Index, which values the greenback against six competing currencies, climbed to a nine-month high today before paring gains. The Thomson Reuters/Jefferies CRB Index of 19 commodities slid to the lowest level since Oct. 8, 2010.

Corn, Wheat Fall

Corn futures for December delivery fell 4.75 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $5.8775 a bushel. Yesterday, the price touched $5.7225, the lowest for a most-active contract since Dec. 13, before settling unchanged. The commodity has lost 6.6 percent this year.

Wheat futures for December delivery declined 15.5 cents, or 2.5 percent, to $6.04 a bushel in Chicago. Earlier, the grain touched $5.9675, matching yesterday’s three-month low. The most-active contract has slumped 24 percent this year.

Warm, dry weather this week in the U.S. Midwest may speed up the harvest, while rain forecast for the southern Great Plains could boost winter-wheat planting, Don Roose, the president of U.S. Commodities Inc., said by telephone from West Des Moines, Iowa. The Plains may get as much as 1.5 inches (3.8 centimeters) from storms starting Oct. 7, according to a Telvent DTN forecast.

U.S. corn output may total 12.553 billion bushels, more than the Department of Agriculture’s estimate of 12.497 billion, INTL FCStone Inc. said yesterday. The soybean harvest will total 3.157 billion bushels, more than the 3.085 billion forecast by the USDA, the commodity-research company and brokerage said. The USDA will update its forecasts Oct. 12.

Corn is the largest U.S. crop, valued at $66.7 billion in 2010, followed by soybeans at $38.9 billion, government data show. Wheat ranks fourth, valued at $13 billion, behind hay.

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