Wheat Tumbles as Drop in U.S. Exports May Signal Slowing Demand

Wheat fell the most in more than three weeks as an unexpected drop in U.S. exports dimmed prospects for demand after a drought-fueled price surge since mid-June.

Export sales totaled 279,877 metric tons in the week that ended on Oct. 4, down 8.8 percent from a week earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said today in a report. That’s less than the 400,000 to 625,000 forecast by analysts in a Bloomberg survey. Accumulated exports since June 1 are down 9 percent from the same period a year earlier, USDA data show. Prices are up 37 percent since June 15.

“Export sales were a little under trade expectations,” Tomm Pfitzenmaier, a partner at Summit Commodity Brokerage in Des Moines, Iowa, said by telephone. U.S. grain is still “overpriced” compared with wheat from Russia, Ukraine and the European Union, he said.

Wheat futures for December delivery fell 3.3 percent to settle at $8.5675 a bushel at 2 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest decline since Sept. 17. The price was little changed this week, dropping 0.1 percent.

Wheat is the fourth-largest U.S. crop, valued at $14.4 billion in 2011, behind corn, soybeans and hay, government data show.

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