March 1, 2012 / 12:38 PM / 8 years ago

GRAINS-Wheat, corn end lower on profit taking; soy rises

* Soybeans rise for ninth straight day
    * Profit taking pressures wheat, corn futures
    * Declines in wheat limited by surprise Iran deal

 (Updates with closing prices, adds new analyst quote)	
    By Mark Weinraub	
    CHICAGO, March 1 (Reuters) - Profit-taking pushed U.S.
corn and wheat futures lower on Thursday, but declines in wheat
were limited by the first sale of U.S. supplies to Iran in about
three years and by prospects for more exports as Western
sanctions have forced Tehran to scramble for food supplies.
    Iran bought 120,000 tonnes of U.S. hard red winter wheat --
the type traded at the smaller Kansas City Board of Trade -- the
U.S. government said before the market opened. The sale caught
traders by surprise because it came at a time of increased
tension between the two countries. 	
    "It certainly opens the potential for more (wheat sales to
Iran), especially if they are on a mission here, either because
of crop reasons or wanting to store up food security reserves,"
said grains analyst Rich Feltes of RJ O'Brien.	
    Soybean prices bucked the overall downward trend, closing
higher and matching the more-than five-month high hit earlier
this week. Concerns that damage to South American crops will
increase world demand for U.S. soybeans supported prices.	
    "Beans continue to be the strong link in the grains room,"
said Chad Henderson, grain market advisor with Prime
Agricultural Consultants. "Everyone wants to hype up the lower
production estimates in South America. The contest is continuing
on how small you can make those Argentine and Brazil bean
crops."
    CBOT May soft red winter wheat settled 4 cents lower
at $6.64 a bushel while CBOT May corn dropped 4 cents to
$6.54 a bushel.
    "The grains are taking at least a temporary breather after
the persistent rally into the end of the month," Matt Zeller,
analyst for INTL FCStone, said in a note to clients. 	
    Traders were unable to confirm which grain company sold the
wheat to Iran, whose nuclear ambitions are at the heart of the
sanctions against the country. Traders suspected major grain
companies like Cargill Inc., Bunge Ltd, Archer Daniels
Midland Co and Louis Dreyfus did the deal but the
companies did not respond to inquiries by Reuters seeking
comments.	
    "It shocked me," Jerod Leman, broker with Wellington
Commodities Corp, said of the Iran sale. "With everything going
on over there with their nuclear problems, I am surprised we
sold them anything. I did not expect that to come from us."
    Wheat futures, which also faced pressure from a higher
dollar, fluctuated between positive and negative territory
several times during Thursday's session.	
    CBOT May soybeans ended up 2-1/2 cents at $13.22-1/2 a
bushel, their ninth straight day of gains.      	
    Hot and dry weather throughout the growing season curtailed
crop production in Brazil and Argentina, placing a premium on
supplies that U.S. farmers have been holding since last fall.	
    "Everyone is betting on China to keep buying (soybeans) and
South American production numbers to come down some more," said
Matt Pierce, analyst for GrainAnalyst.com.
    Soybean futures rose more than 9 percent in February, the
largest monthly gain since December 2010, on South American
weather concerns and Chinese demand. Corn posted a monthly rise
of about 2.5 percent and wheat ended the month flat to post a
third straight month without a decline.	
 Prices at 1:54 p.m. CST (1954 GMT)      
                              LAST      NET    PCT     YTD
                                        CHG    CHG     CHG
 CBOT corn                  656.50    -2.25  -0.3%    1.5%
 CBOT soy                  1313.50     3.50   0.3%    9.6%
 CBOT meal                  353.70     2.50   0.7%   14.3%
 CBOT soyoil                 53.94    -0.15  -0.3%    3.6%
 CBOT wheat                 659.25    -5.00  -0.8%    1.0%
 CBOT rice                 1420.50     0.00   0.0%   -2.7%
 EU wheat                   209.75     1.50   0.7%    3.6%
 
 US crude                   108.88     1.81   1.7%   10.2%
 Dow Jones                  12,975       23   0.2%    6.2%
 Gold                      1720.99    25.75   1.5%   10.1%
 Euro/dollar                1.3320  -0.0007   0.0%    2.9%
 Dollar Index              78.7600   0.0230   0.0%   -1.8%
 Baltic Freight                763       13   1.7%  -56.1%
  * In U.S. cents, benchmark contracts, except EU wheat (euros) 	
and soymeal (dollars). CBOT wheat, corn and soybeans per bushel,	
rice per hundredweight, soymeal per ton and soyoil per lb.	
	
 (Additional reporting by Sam Nelson in Chicago; Editing by
David Gregorio and Bob Burgdorfer)
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