Wheat Falls After U.S. Export Sales Slide, Rain May Help Crop

Wheat fell in Chicago after weekly U.S. export sales declined and as rain forecast for parts of the U.S. Plains may improve crop conditions there.

U.S. wheat-export sales fell to 315,984 metric tons in the week through March 28, down from 828,624 tons in the prior week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported today. Old-crop sales slumped to 141,156 tons from 580,324 tons.

“These are bad numbers and you have to go back several weeks to see numbers as low,” Arnaud Saulais, a broker at Starsupply Commodity Brokers in Nyon, Switzerland, wrote in an e-mailed reply to questions.

Wheat for delivery in May fell as much as 1.7 percent to $6.845 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade and was at $6.89 by 8:49 a.m. local time.

“U.S. export sales are down 76 percent from the previous week,” said Kieran Walsh, a grain broker at Aurel BCG in Paris. While forecasts for rain may create some “hopeful” optimism, “the most significant factor is the export number,” he said.

Episodes of light rain and some heavier rainfall this weekend and into next week may help improve wheat conditions in the central and southern Plains of the U.S., Joel Burgio, an agricultural meteorologist at DTN, wrote in a report today.

Milling wheat for delivery in November traded on NYSE Liffe in Paris advanced 0.2 percent to 214.50 euros ($275.60) a metric ton, while the May contract climbed 0.5 percent to 241.75 euros a ton.

“The price of U.S. soft-red winter wheat remains low compared to the French price, but the demand for this type of quality is low right now,” Saulais said.

Soybeans Drop

Soybeans fell for a second day in Chicago amid concern an outbreak in China of a new bird-flu strain may curb meat consumption, in turn reducing the oilseed’s use in animal feed in the world’s biggest importer.

The H7N9 strain of avian influenza that emerged in eastern China has infected at least 10 people and killed three of them, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The new cases may stoke concern about a drop in poultry consumption, Paris-based farm adviser Agritel wrote.

Soybeans for delivery in May slipped 0.5 percent to $13.7325 a bushel in Chicago. Corn for delivery in May shed 0.5 percent to $6.385 a bushel, set to drop for a fourth session in five.

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