Corn Has Longest Slump in Four Weeks as Demand Dwindles

Corn futures fell, capping the longest slump in four weeks, on signs of waning consumption of the grain, the biggest U.S. crop. Soybeans rose.

In the week ended Jan. 25, corn inspected for export plunged to the lowest since July 2003, and production of grain-based ethanol fell to the smallest since at least June 2010, separate government reports have shown. Corn reserves as of Sept. 1 may be 616 million bushels, topping a Department of Agriculture forecast last month of 602 million, a Bloomberg survey showed.

“Export demand is very poor, and more ethanol plants are closing because of declining profit margins,” Greg Grow, the director of agribusiness at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “U.S. corn supplies are starting to look a little more plentiful with the slowdown in consumption.”

Corn futures for March delivery fell 0.7 percent to close at $7.29 a bushel at 2 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest drop for a most-active contract since Jan. 23. The grain declined for the third straight session, the longest slump since Jan. 4.

The USDA will update its inventory estimates on Feb. 8. U.S. and world soybean inventories may be reduced as dry weather shrinks Argentina’s crop, boosting demand for U.S. supplies, a Bloomberg survey showed.

Soybean futures for March delivery rose 0.5 percent to $14.955 a bushel. Yesterday, the price reached $14.98, the highest since Dec. 17.

Corn was valued at $76.5 billion in 2011, followed by soybeans at $35.8 billion, government figures show.

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