By Benjamin Parkin
Grain and soybean futures fell on Wednesday ahead of a government supply-and-demand report.
Thursday at noon ET, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is due to update its forecasts for global and domestic crop stocks, U.S. exports and South American production, among other things.
Traders were reluctant to push up prices for grain and soybean futures any further ahead of the report, analysts said, particularly given that many were already trading at or near multimonth highs.
They will be watching closely to see by how much the agency reduces crop estimates for Argentina, which has been suffering through a drought that has damaged the growing corn and soybeans there.
Analysts surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expect the USDA to put Argentine corn production at 36.3 million metric tons, down from last year's 41 million, with soybean output at 48.1 million tons, also lower than a year earlier.
But how cutbacks in Argentina affect prices depends on what happens in neighboring Brazil. While analysts expect the agency to forecast a smaller corn crop there too, they on average expect the soybean harvest to match last year's record 114 million metric tons.
"It is quite possible that these two could simply off-set each other, and it is not out of the question we could see a higher production total," said Karl Setzer, an analyst at MaxYield Cooperative.
March-dated soybean futures fell 0.9% to $10.55 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. March corn contracts fell 0.1% to $3.79 1/4 a bushel, while March wheat dropped 1.8% to $4.93 a bushel.
Those markets were under added pressure Wednesday from mounting trade tensions, analysts said. The resignation of President Donald Trump's senior economic advisor Gary Cohn rattled traders. They bet the move increased the likelihood that the President would follow through on his promise to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, which many are concerned could trigger retaliation by other countries against U.S. agricultural products.
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