March 29, 2018 / 6:26 PM / a year ago

GRAINS-Corn, soy futures soar on bullish USDA plantings forecast

    * USDA sees reduced corn, soy acres in 2018, surprising
trade
    * CBOT corn surges 3 percent, soybeans 2 percent
    * USDA corn, soy stocks figures top expectations
    * Wheat follows firm trend despite expected acreage growth 

 (New throughout; updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline,
changes dateline, previous SINGAPORE/PARIS)
    By Julie Ingwersen
    CHICAGO, March 29 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures jumped more
than 3 percent on Thursday and soybeans surged 2 percent after
the U.S. Department of Agriculture stunned traders by projecting
a year-on-year decline in plantings of both crops. 
    Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures followed the firm
trend, despite the USDA's forecast of an expansion in total
wheat plantings from a year ago.
    As of 12:58 p.m. CDT (1758 GMT), CBOT May corn was up
13 cents at $3.86-1/2 a bushel. May soybeans were up 25
cents at $10.43 a bushel and May wheat was up 6-1/4 cents
at $4.51-3/4.
    The most-active corn contract was on track to post its
biggest single-day climb since Aug. 31 after the USDA forecast
U.S. corn plantings for 2018 at 88.026 million acres, down 2
percent from 2017 and below an average of trade expectations.

    The government projected soybean plantings at 88.982 million
acres, down 1 percent from 2017 and below a range of estimates
from analysts, most of whom were expecting an increase in
soybean acreage.
    "With both corn and soybean acres down from a year ago and
expectations, it seems that the relatively poor returns for both
crops (historically), along with the prospect of losing soybean
business with China, has cooled expansion of total acres," said
Alex Norton, analyst at Beeson Inc.
    The market shrugged off pressure from the USDA's
larger-than-expected quarterly corn and soy stocks figures. The
government reported March 1 corn stocks in all positions at
8.888 billion bushels and soybean stocks at 2.107 billion, both
above most analyst estimates.
    "The stocks data is actually a little bit negative," said
Jack Scoville, analyst at The Price Futures Group, adding,
"Overall, we do have the supply; that's not changing."
    CBOT wheat futures followed corn and soybeans higher,
despite the USDA forecasting an expansion in wheat acres. Most
of the growth came in plantings for spring wheat, which the
government put at 12.6 million acres, up from 11 million in
2017.
    The USDA reported March 1 wheat stocks at 1.494 billion
bushels, in line with expectations.
    "Farmers still see (spring wheat) as a potential
money-maker, following last year's weather-reduced crop. With
wheat stocks coming in near expectations, the bigger planted
area data provided some pressure to wheat markets, despite
strength for corn/beans," Norton said.
    
    CBOT prices as of 1:05 p.m. CDT (1805 GMT):  
                         Last     Net     Pct  Volume
                               change  change  
 CBOT wheat     WK8    451.75    6.25     1.4   73902
 CBOT corn      CK8    386.75   13.25     3.6  302503
 CBOT soybeans  SK8   1042.75   24.75     2.4  150414
 CBOT soymeal   SMK8   382.70   11.40     3.1   55623
 CBOT soyoil    BOK8    31.94    0.32     1.0   59563
    NOTE: CBOT May wheat, corn and soybeans shown in cents per
bushel, soymeal in dollars per short ton and soyoil in cents per
lb.

 (Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and
Sybille de La Hamaide in Parise; editing by David Goodman and
Jonathan Oatis)
  
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