Corn Futures Rise on Demand for Ethanol, U.S. Exports

Corn futures rose on signs of increasing demand for ethanol and grain exports after prices tumbled this year in the U.S., the world’s biggest producer. Wheat and soybeans gained.

U.S. ethanol production rose 3.4% to 944,000 barrels a day in the week ended Dec. 6, the highest since January 2012, Energy Information Administration data showed today. Exporters sold 120,000 tons of corn to unknown destinations, the Department of Agriculture said. Sales in the marketing year that began Sept. 1 doubled from a year earlier, according to USDA figures.

“Ethanol production is ramping up, and importing nations are taking advantage of the lower prices to book additional cargoes,” Jason Roose, a market analyst at U.S. Commodities Inc. in West Des Moines, Iowa, said in a telephone interview. “U.S. livestock producers are also locking in corn purchases.”

Corn futures for March delivery rose 0.7 percent to close at $4.3925 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade. This year, the price has tumbled fallen 37 percent as U.S. production was forecast to jump 30 percent to a record.

Wheat rebounded on signs that export demand may climb after prices dropped to an 18-month low, while speculators close out wagers on an extended slump, Roose said.

Egypt, the top importer, bought 300,000 metric tons of Romanian and French wheat today in a tender. In the week ended Dec. 3, CBOT futures and options bets by hedge funds on a price decline were close to the highest ever, U.S. government data showed on Dec. 6.

Wheat futures for March delivery rose 0.3 percent to $6.4075 a bushel. Yesterday, the price $6.35, the lowest for a most-active contract since June 18, 2012, after the USDA said world production would rise 8.4 percent to a record.

Soybean futures for January delivery climbed 0.4 percent to $13.44 a bushel. The oilseed has dropped 4.6 percent this year.

Corn is the biggest U.S. crop, followed by soybeans, hay and wheat, government data show.

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