MARKET ANALYSIS

US WHEAT AND CORN FUTURES FALL AMIDST CEASEFIRE TALKS

Grain supplies are still tight, despite potential Ukraine-Russia ceasefire

US wheat futures fell 4% and corn fell nearly 3% as comments by Russia and Ukraine following negotiations in Turkey raised hopes of a ceasefire in a conflict that has disrupted massive grain exports through the Black Sea region. However, trade was volatile, with benchmark May wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade swinging in a huge 96-cent range, from a session high of $10.68-1/4 in early moves to a low of $9.72 per bushel. Both CBOT wheat and corn futures briefly fell their respective daily limits before paring losses.

CBOT May wheat settled down 42-3/4 cents at $10.14-1/4. May corn ended down 22-1/4 cents at $7.26-1/4 a bushel and May soybeans fell 21-1/4 cents to finish at $16.43 a bushel.

The wheat market has been particularly turbulent since Russia invaded Ukraine on 24 February. Both countries are major wheat exporters, while Ukraine is also a significant global corn supplier. Russia promised to scale down military operations around Ukraine’s capital and north, while Kyiv proposed adopting neutral status, in confidence-building steps that were the first signs of progress towards negotiating peace.  Grain futures fell along with crude oil in a “knee-jerk reaction” to those headlines, said Jack Scoville, market analyst at the Price Futures Group in Chicago.

But wheat and corn trimmed losses as some investors saw a buying opportunity, given that global grain supplies were tightening even before Russia’s invasion began.

“We were sharply higher because of this war, and now maybe the war is going away, so we are retracing a little bit. But … it does not change the fact that it is still an overall tight situation out there,” Scoville said.

Traders continue to adjust their positions ahead of the US Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) key US planting intentions and quarterly stocks reports, both due. Analysts surveyed by Reuters on average expect the USDA to project an increase in 2022 soybean plantings compared to a year ago, while corn acres are expected to decline from 2021.