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Wheat Futures Flat As Traders Wait for April Showers

April 4, 2019 at 16:52 by Andrew Moran

Wheat futures are trading sideways on Thursday as investors appear to be waiting for weather conditions to affect short-term patterns. With more rain expected in the Midwest, potentially impacting commodity prices, traders are taking a wait-and-see approach to wheat. Investors already got burned on spring wheat futures as flooding effects on acreage have greatly diminished in recent days.

May wheat futures dipped $0.0025, or 0.05%, to $4.7075 per bushel at 16:09 GMT on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBoT). Wheat prices are poised for a weekly gain of 1.5%, but they are still down more than 7% year-to-date and 13% over the last 12 months.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), 56% of the US winter wheat was rated in good-to-excellent condition, beating the median estimates of 55%. This is also up from 32% a year ago. The USDA is further anticipating strong harvest yields, bolstered by recent weather reports.

The USDA report weighed on futures contracts.

A swath of weather outlooks say that there are rain showers in the forecast for April. This rain would pile onto the waterlogged soil after the Plains were pounded by storms. The weather was so bad that large parts of the region were flooded, affecting output levels. Speculators had anticipated that the floods would curb inventories and production capacities, but it was recently reported that concerns about floods affecting acreage dissipated.

Will investors’ gamble pay off or will they get burned once again by Mother Nature? Analysts believe that wheat prices could top $5 this month if the weather conditions are really bad once again.

If wheat does exceed $5, then it may be short-lived because the market expects a global supply glut this year as more farmers worldwide sow more acres for the first time since 2015. Hedge funds and money managers are shorting wheat, betting that price drops will occur in the middle of September. Rabobank International also warned that wheat may be the most bearish crop in 2019.

An example of ballooning production and stockpiles is Ethiopia. The USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service says the African country’s wheat output will surge in the 2019–2020 season to 4.6 million tonnes, up from 4.5 million tonnes last year. Researchers cited the government’s efforts to make Ethiopia wheat independent through improved farm inputs and mechanization.

In other agricultural commodities, May corn futures rose $0.02, or 0.55%, to $3.6475 per pound. May soybean futures tacked on $0.055, or 0.61%, to $9.04 a pound. May orange juice futures tumbled $0.0235, or 1.95%, to $1.1805 per pound.

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