U.S. soybean futures fell for a fourth consecutive session on Friday and posted their steepest weekly drop in two months as processors crushed fewer beans last month than expected and as South American supplies continued to flood the global market.
U.S. corn futures slipped from an earlier five-week high but closed near previous levels. Wheat also closed near unchanged after rising in each of the previous six sessions, weighed down by profit-taking before the weekend.
Soybeans turned lower at midmorning after the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) said the U.S. soybean crush in February fell to 136.322 million bushels, below trade forecasts for 141.6 million.
"The beans had been on a demand-led rally and domestic demand was supposed to be super strong. But processors are probably having a tough time getting beans to crush because our supplies are low," said Jack Scoville, vice-president at The Price Futures Group.
"With the lack of export news this week and now with this crush number coming in below expectations, it's a disappointment so it's taking prices down," he said.
Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) May soybeans fell 9-1/2 cents, or 0.7 per cent, to $14.26 per bushel (all figures US$)( for a weekly loss of 3.1 per cent, its largest in 10 weeks. The contract breached its 50-, 100- and 200-day moving averages on the break and hit a more-than-two-week low.
The lower-than-expected domestic use added to earlier-week pressure from an accelerating South American harvest, which dampened global demand for near term shipments of U.S. soy.
Corn, wheat slip
Corn and wheat were lower for much of the session as profit-taking after recent gains weighed down prices, but both ended near unchanged, supported by strong cash markets.
Still, buyers were cautious ahead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's end-of-month reports on quarterly grain stocks and prospective plantings.
The market was "particularly looking at corn with some pretty high acreage numbers creeping out," said Brian Basting, commodity research analyst at Advance Trading.
"We have a long way to go to planting, but it's just enough to keep some buyers off balance," Basting said.
He said the Brazilian corn crop continues to have potential, with acreage up this year after last year's record crop.
Illinois-based Allendale Inc. said Friday that U.S. farmers were preparing to sow 96.956 million acres of corn this spring, the second largest area since 1937 and slightly less than the 97.255 million acres planted last year.
Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) May corn gained 1/2 cent to $7.17/bu. after earlier touching a high of $7.19-3/4, the highest since Feb. 8. The contract rose 1.9 per cent on the week.
CBOT May wheat eased 1-3/4 cents to $7.23/bu. but gained 3.7 per cent on the week, the largest percentage jump in eight weeks.
Wheat has been supported by robust export demand as well as by strong demand from domestic livestock feeders who have been struggling with high corn prices. U.S. supplies of the yellow grain were forecast to shrink to the lowest in 17 years by the end of the summer.
-- Karl Plume writes for Reuters from Chicago.