U.S. grains tread water ahead of crop report, Fed speech

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(Reuters) – U.S. grain and soybean futures edged lower in early Asian trading on Friday as traders took to the sidelines waiting for a key report on the state of U.S. crops following a crop tour and a key Federal Reserve speech on the U.S. economy.

Private firm Pro Farmer will release a national corn production estimate later on Friday and will also report on the condition of soybean crops, while fears are mounting that drought will impact on U.S. winter wheat plantings.

Traders were also reluctant to take positions ahead of a key speech by U.S. Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke later on Friday.

The dollar rose as investors shied away from risky trades amid speculation that Bernanke will not hint at new plans to stimulate the U.S. economy at the annual central bankers meeting later on Friday at Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

The dollar’s rise pushed prices down across the commodities complex.

Chicago Board of Trade wheat for December delivery, the most active contract, fell 0.48 percent to $7.84 per bushel in early trade. U.S. wheat rose on Thursday led by a near 2 percent jump in Kansas City hard red winter milling wheat as drought posed a threat to seedings of the 2012 crop.

New crop corn for December delivery dropped 0.1 percent to $7.42- per bushel after rising 0.7 percent on Thursday as concerns about lower yields from the U.S. 2011/12 crop continued to weigh on the market.

New crop soybeans for November delivery dropped 0.10 percent to $13.91- per bushel. On Thursday, the contract closed slightly lower on profit-taking after the market hit a one-month high this week and on selling due to a firmer dollar.


* High temperatures baking the southern United States are amplifying the effects of the historic drought in the region and forecasts offer little hope for immediate relief as farmers prepare to plant the 2011/12 hard red winter crop.

* Crop scouts on the western leg of Mid-West field tour reported on Thursday that late plantings had hurt production prospects for corn and soybeans in south-western Minnesota.

* Scouts in the east said corn yields in south-east and east-central Iowa were better than average but soy yield potential was variable.

* Egypt, the world’s largest wheat importer, has bought 300,000 tonnes of Russian and Romanian wheat for two shipments on October 21-31 and November 1-10 on a free on board basis, the main government wheat buyer said on Thursday.

* The International Grains Council (IGC) on Thursday raised its estimate of 2011/12 global wheat production by 3 million tonnes to 677 million tonnes.

* The IGC expected wheat stocks to be barely changed at 191 million tonnes at the end of the 2011/12 season versus 192 million a year earlier.

* The organization said a substantial recovery in Black Sea region supplies will result in a major shift back to this origin, especially for wheat.


* The dollar rose on Thursday and stocks slumped as investors shied away from risky trades amid speculation that Federal Reserve chief Ben Bernanke will not hint at new plans to stimulate the economy this week.

* U.S. light crude futures for October were lower early on Friday at around $84.93 per barrel as the dollar rose, reversing gains on Thursday when the market kept a close watch on powerful Hurricane Irene, which threatened U.S. east coast refineries. On Thursday the October contract rose 14 cents to $85.30 per barrel.

* U.S. stocks fell on Thursday as investors raised cash ahead of a critical speech from Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, hoping he will give them a clearer picture of the Fed’s plans for the struggling economy. The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI dropped 170.89 points, or 1.51 percent, to 11,149.82.


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