U.S. soybean futures tumbled for a second straight day on Wednesday on slowing global demand for the remnants of last autumn's U.S. harvest as South American supplies begin to flood the market.
Corn prices declined on profit-taking and technical selling, snapping a four-session streak of gains. Additional pressure came from a firmer U.S. dollar, which makes dollar-denominated commodities more expensive for buyers holding other currencies.
Meanwhile, wheat climbed for a fifth straight session, bucking pressure from lower corn and soy and the higher greenback, as rising demand from domestic livestock producers seeking to replace high-priced corn in feed rations triggered short-covering and technical buying.
Traders unwound bullish spread bets in corn and soybeans by selling nearby contracts and buying deferred positions, eroding some of the premiums that shorter-dated contracts have built up amid concerns about historically tight U.S. supplies.
"The dollar being up is one thing but the main thing is unwinding of bull spreads. Bull spreads have been driving this higher in both beans and corn and they're unwinding those now," said Sterling Smith, futures strategist for Citigroup.
"Product is starting to become available from Brazil, beans and also some corn, so that will be coming on line."
Brazilian farmers have harvested about half of an expected record-large soybean crop. Although there are lengthy vessel delays of up to 60 days at Brazilian ports, prices for mid-April shipment and beyond have made springtime exports from the United States less competitive.
Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) May-delivery soybeans fell 21-3/4 cents, or 1.5 per cent, to $14.47 per bushel while new-crop November dipped seven cents, or 0.6 per cent, to $12.62-1/2 a bushel.
CBOT May corn dropped four cents, or 0.6 percent, to $7.10-1/4 a bushel after matching a 4-1/2-week high of $7.17-3/4. The contract's drop below its 50-day moving average of $7.08-3/4 earlier pushed it to a session low. New-crop December shed 2-1/4 cents, or 0.4 per cent, to $5.55.
Commodity funds sold an estimated net 6,000 corn contracts and 7,000 soybean contracts on the day, trade sources said.
Feed wheat demand
Rising demand for wheat in animal feeding rations this year amid historically high corn prices fuelled a short-covering bounce in wheat, a market that boasts a considerable net short position by managed funds.
Demand for feed wheat has increased since BNSF Railway last week cut its rate to ship U.S. soft red winter wheat from Chicago to the U.S. cattle hubs of west Texas and western Kansas.
"There's a lot of wheat being booked into the panhandle and Texas. That demand for physical wheat has gotten that May/July spread into an inverse and that, in and of itself, is a bit of a chart signal that got people's attention," said Tim Emslie, research manager with Country Hedging.
Meanwhile, near-term export prospects for SRW wheat remained strong due to competitive prices in the world market.
Iran has been in talks to buy around 110,000 tonnes of U.S.-origin milling wheat for April shipment.
CBOT May wheat rose 6-1/2 cents to $7.10 a bushel, an 0.9 per cent gain. Buying accelerated as the contract breached chart resistance at its 14-day moving average of $7.05-1/2.
Commodity funds bought an estimated net 4,000 wheat contracts during the session, trade sources said.
-- Karl Plume writes for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Sam Nelson in Chicago.