Wheat Drops Most in a Week After U.S. Export Sales Fall

Wheat futures fell the most in a week as export sales of the grain tumbled 40 percent from the U.S., the world’s biggest shipper.

The government said today that export sales dropped to 387,877 metric tons in the week ended Jan. 24 from 647,545 tons a week earlier. Since June 1, shipments have declined 11 percent from a year earlier, U.S. Department of Agriculture data show.

“Demand has been slow to get moving,” Jon Marcus, the president of Lakefront Futures & Options LLC in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Wheat has been really tired. At this time of the year, there isn’t a whole lot of news to trade off of.”

Wheat futures for March delivery fell 1 percent to settle at $7.795 a bushel at 2 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest decline for a most-active contract since Jan. 22. In January, the grain climbed 0.2 percent, snapping a three-month slide, as dry weather eroded prospects for the winter crop in the U.S. In 2012, the price rose 19 percent, the most among 24 raw materials in the Standard & Poor’s GSCI Spot Index.

Wheat production in Argentina will total 10.3 million tons in the year that started on Dec. 1, down from an earlier forecast of 11 million tons, as “heavy rains and excess humidity” eroded yields, the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service said today. Output a year earlier was 15.5 million.

Ukraine plans to stop two vessels loading wheat in contravention to an export limit agreed to between traders and the government last year, industry group Agrarian Confederation reported on its website. An export limit of 6 million tons in the year through July was reached in December, according to the Agriculture Ministry. Ukraine’s harvest fell 29 percent to 15.76 million tons this year due to drought, according to the state statistics office.

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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