By Kirk Maltais
-- Corn for May delivery rose 3.4% to $5.79 3/4 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade Thursday as traders mulled the possibility of the USDA raising its corn consumption figures in Friday's WASDE report.
-- Wheat for May delivery rose 2% to $6.28 3/4 a bushel.
-- Soybeans for May delivery rose 0.5% to $14.15 1/4 a bushel.
Friday Surprise?: Corn futures led grains higher Thursday as export sales data suggested the USDA may move its targets for corn consumption higher in Friday's WASDE report.
"Given still very high corn prices in [China], their undiminished appetite for other feed grains and wheat and uncertainty about how Brazil's crop will finish off -- to say nothing of the very uncertain situation here in the U.S. for our 2021 corn crop ... we assume China will take every bit of what they have purchased and possibly more," said Joel Karlin of Western Milling.
Grain Drain: China was also the prime reason for wheat's strength Thursday.
"There are rumors that China is asking for offers on U.S. hard red wheat for July/August," said AgResource. The agricultural research company added that it's "uncertain of [if] any U.S. wheat has sold but based on the cheapness of U.S. HRW wheat to Chinese corn, it makes economic sense ... When the Chinese government starts to secure U.S. wheat, we doubt that the buying will stop at just 2 cargoes."
Just a Smidge: Brazilian crop agency Conab only slightly raised its estimate for soybean production for the 2020-2021 growing season after seeing a small increase in productivity. Brazilian farmers are now projected to produce a record 135.5 million metric tons of soybeans this season. In March, the agency forecast a crop of 135.1 million tons.
Meanwhile, Conab forecast a record total corn crop of 109 million metric tons, up from its March forecast of 108.1 million tons and up from the 102.5 million tons produced in 2019-2020.
Out with the Old: After an absence in recent reports, the USDA says China has purchased more new-crop soybeans, but also cancelled orders for old-crop soybeans. In the USDA's weekly export sales report for the week ended April 1, soybean sales totaled 246,100 metric tons across both marketing years. China was the primary mover of soybeans for the week, cancelling 216,100 tons of soybeans purchased for the 2020-21 marketing year while buying 264,000 tons of soybeans for the 2021-22 marketing year.
"Don't discount additional old-crop U.S. soybean cancellations, given the availability of Brazilian soybeans and discount of new-crop U.S. soybeans," said Terry Reilly, senior agriculture futures analyst with Futures International LLC.
Covid Comeback: Domestic grain shipments in the U.S. fell, according to the latest weekly grains transportation report from the USDA. U.S. Class I railroads originated 24,532 grain carloads during the week ended March 27, down 10% from the previous week but 10% more than last year.
Meanwhile, barge grain movements totaled 776,008 tons for the week ended April 3, 9% lower than the previous week but 51% higher than the same period last year.
So while grain shipments shrank back from previous levels, they are maintaining levels higher than 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic had started in earnest.
-- The USDA is scheduled to release its monthly supply and demand report at noon EDT Friday.
-- The CFTC is due to release its weekly commitments of traders report at 3:30 p.m. EDT Friday.
-- The USDA is scheduled to release its weekly export inspections report at 11 a.m. EDT Monday.
-- The USDA is due to release its weekly crop progress report at 4 p.m. EDT Monday.
-- Jeffrey Lewis contributed to this article.
Write to Kirk Maltais at firstname.lastname@example.org
(END) Dow Jones Newswires