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Column: USDA report shows more grain


A quarterly USDA grain stocks report released at midday Thursday caused a downward correction in the grain markets, showing larger stockpiles of corn, wheat and soybeans than had been anticipated.

Prices tumbled immediately when the report was released at noon Fort Wayne time on Thursday, led lower by corn, which had stockpiles that were 7.7 percent higher than expectations.

By the end of the day, May corn had fallen the exchange-maximum 40 cents per bushel (- 5.4 percent), to $6.95, May soybeans sank 49 cents (- 3.4 percent), to $14.09, and May wheat withered by 49 cents (- 6.6 percent), to $6.88.

In the near future, consumers, producers and traders will be closely watching planting weather as U.S. farmers prepare to plant this year's spring crop of corn, wheat and soybeans.

Crude oil climbs

Signs of a stronger U.S. economy and record-high stock market helped to pull crude oil higher this week.

Strong housing and manufacturing data contributed to five consecutive positive trading sessions, climbing $4.74 per barrel (+ 5.1 percent).

Although the United States continues to have relatively large stockpiles of crude oil, the worst gluts in the Midwest are beginning to subside, driving prices for domestic crude oil higher. As of the close of markets on Thursday, crude oil for delivery in May was trading at $97.23 a barrel, the highest price in more than a month.

Despite the sharp rally in crude oil, gasoline products were only pulled slightly higher, rising 6 cents per gallon this week (+ 2 percent).

Sugar sinks

On Thursday, sugar prices fell to the lowest level in nearly three years, dropping beneath 18 cents per pound.

The market has been falling as Brazil prepares to harvest a record sugarcane crop. Brazil is the world's largest producer and exporter of sugar.

Ample global supplies have cut the price of the sweetener in half during the last two years, with prices falling sharply from their high of 36 cents per pound in February 2011.

As of Thursday's close, May sugar futures were trading at 17.66 cents a pound, down 0.54 cents (- 3 percent) on the week.

Walt Breitinger is a commodity futures broker in Valparaiso. He can be reached at (800) 411-3888 or This is not a solicitation of any order to buy or sell any market.