The International Grains Council lowered the bar on estimates for world corn stocks, citing higher estimates for consumption, but the downgrade failed to prevent corn's rally losing traction after eight days of gains.
The IGC lowered by 3m tonnes to 113m tonnes, a nine-year low, its forecast for world corn inventories at the close of 2012-13.
"The market is particularly tight," the intergovernmental group said, flagging that inventories in the four main exporting countries were now set to end the season at 25m tonnes, 3m tonnes below the previous forecast, and down 46% on average levels.
Stocks in major exporters – Argentina, Brazil, Ukraine and the US – are viewed as particularly significant as they are available to for trade, unlike the inventories in countries such as China, the second-ranked producer, which rarely sells supplies abroad.
The IGC lifted by 15m tonnes to 845m tonnes, citing upgrades to official estimates for the Chinese and US crops, and "brighter prospects for Argentina".
IGC estimates for world corn stocks and (level in top exporting countries)
2012-13: 113m tonnes, (25m tonnes)
2011-12: 133m tonnes, (35m tonnes)
2012-13: 131m tonnes, (40m tonnes)
2012-13: 145m tonnes, (52m tonnes)
And, it represents less than 48 days' of consumption – the thinnest level of cover for 39 years.
However, Chicago corn futures looked set to break their winning streak despite the IGC report, and separate USDA data showing US weekly export sales of the grain at 393,341 tonnes – up from 12,622 the week before and a figure beaten only once before this season.
The sales, which came during the week that corn futures set a six-month low of $6.78 a bushel, were largely to China, Japan and Mexico.
Nonetheless, corn for March stood 0.4% lower at $7.28 a bushel, for March delivery, in midday deals, with traders citing rally fatigue.
The bullish news from the USDA's data last week "is getting stale", Richard Feltes at RJ O'Brien said.
US Commodities said that corn for delivery in 2012-13 was "overbought 1.2 times", terming the market as "mature" and "awaiting a catalyst of the next technical move".