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Wheat Heads for Quarterly Slide Before USDA Report on Stockpiles

Wheat alternated between gains and losses in Chicago, heading for a quarterly decline, before a U.S. government report tomorrow that may show stocks of the grain fell less than those of corn and soybeans.

U.S. wheat stocks as of March 1 probably slid 2.8 percent from a year earlier, based on the average estimate of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg, compared with a 31 percent contraction expected for soybeans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture is scheduled to report stocks and planting intentions tomorrow. Wheat fell 5.2 percent this quarter in Chicago trading.

“Tomorrow’s USDA reports have the potential of significantly impacting price direction and scope,” wrote Duane Lowry, publisher of Early Market News. “Both bulls and bears should respect risk exposure.”

Wheat for delivery in May rose 0.9 percent to $7.3825 a bushel by 10:02 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade after adding as much as 1 percent and retreating as much as 0.5 percent. Volume was 12 percent below the 100-day average for that time of day. Milling wheat for delivery in May traded on NYSE Liffe in Paris rose 0.5 percent to 246.25 euros ($314) a metric ton.

“The European traders, like the American actors, continue to await the USDA publication tomorrow that will provide details on the size of corn and soybean plantings and, of course, on the stocks situation in the U.S.,” Paris-based farm adviser Agritel wrote in a market comment.

Commodity futures trading in Chicago and Paris will be closed March 29 for Good Friday. NYSE Liffe also will be shut April 1 for Easter Monday.

Corn reserves may have fallen 17 percent to a 15-year low, while soybean stocks probably fell to the smallest since 2004, Bloomberg’s survey showed.

Corn for delivery in May rose 0.4 percent to $7.3325 a bushel in Chicago. The grain is up 5 percent this quarter. Soybeans for delivery in the same month, set for a 2.8 percent quarterly gain, added less than 0.1 percent to $14.485 a bushel.

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