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Grain futures mixed in early US trading; bearish outside markets limiting buying interest


US grain futures markets are mixed to weaker Tuesday morning, as buying interest is being limited by bearish “outside market” forces that include a higher US dollar index and sharply lower crude oil prices. Soybeans are up 1 to 2 cents, corn is down around 1 cent and wheat futures are down 4 to 7 cents.


The soybean complex is leading gains this morning. Soybean oil futures have this week hit highest prices since 2011. Very profitable soybean crushing margins are keeping demand for soybeans strong in the US. A very tight global supply and demand balance sheet will also keep a floor under soybean prices in the near term.


Meanwhile, Argentina soybean regions were dry over the past 24 hours, but rains are seen building from Thursday through Saturday, improving late moisture for many areas. Conditions look dry in the 6- to 10-day outlook maps. Rains in Brazil were spotty Monday with most corn and soybean areas dry, and rains confined to the south through the weekend.


US corn weekly export inspections, reported Monday, fell to 77.2 million bushels in the week ended March 18, though the previous week’s total was again revised higher, from 86.8 million to record 89.5 million bushels.


Third highest weekly corn inspections


Last week’s total was still the third-best of the marketing year. Cumulative shipments are now almost 600 million bushels ahead of last year’s pace, with the USDA looking for an 822 million- bushel increase in exports this year.

Wheat futures are seeing some pressure after US states reported winter wheat ratings improved after recent moisture. Some US state wheat condition ratings released Monday afternoon showed widespread improvement the past week.


Crops rated “good” to “excellent” rose 8 percentage points in Kansas and Colorado, 5 points in Oklahoma, 2 points in Texas, with SRW ratings rising 7 points in Louisiana and 4 points in Arkansas while Mississippi ratings fell 4 points.


However, the US northern Plains remain in severe drought with similar conditions in the Canadian Prairies. Some longer-range forecasts offer hope for some relief. Wheat crops in Europe and the Black Sea region remain in good shape but there is some talk about greater winterkill in some Russia areas.


USDA on Tuesday did not announce any new daily grain sales for a second day, after last week reporting nearly 3.9 million metric tons of US corn sold to China.


Grain futures trading during the next week will be dominated by positioning ahead of the USDA’s March 31 estimates of quarterly stocks and spring planting intentions.


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