GRAINS-Chicago futures inch lower ahead of key USDA reports

Credit: REUTERS/Amanda Perobelli

Adds analyst comment, updates prices

CANBERRA, March 28 (Reuters) - Chicago soybeans, corn and wheat dipped on Thursday as traders braced for quarterly grain stocks and planting intention reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) later in the day.

They also expect U.S. corn and wheat plantings to fall in 2024 while soybean plantings increase.

These USDA reports always present volatility risks for grain markets since the outcomes are often unpredictable.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Sv1 was down 0.1% at $11.91 a bushel by 0243 GMT, while CBOT wheat Wv1 fell 0.1% to $5.47-1/4 a bushel and corn Cv1 slipped 0.1% to $4.26-1/2 a bushel.

All three contracts were near multi-year lows. Soybeans fell to $11.29 in February, their lowest since November 2020, corn to $4.04 last month, also its weakest since November 2020, and wheat to $5.24 in March, the lowest since August 2020.

Speculators are betting on further falls.

"There is no immediate reason for the market to rally from a supply and demand point of view," said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at IKON Commodities in Sydney.

"The markets are well supplied and should move even lower than they are," he said, adding that if the USDA reported smaller increases in inventory than expected, that could boost prices for a time.

Elsewhere, agribusiness consultancy Agroconsult said Brazil would produce 156.5 million metric tons of soybeans this year, increasing its estimate after surveying fields nationally.

The forecast is at the higher end of predictions. State crop agency Conab this month forecast a 146.9 million ton crop, while the USDA has a 155 million ton estimate.

In Argentina, dry weather in the main agricultural regions over the next week will benefit the start of soy and corn harvests after recent heavy rains, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said.

In Europe, ambassadors from EU countries reached a revised deal to extend tariff-free food imports from Ukraine.

(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Subhranshu Sahu)

((peter.hobson@thomsonreuters.com;))

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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