May 25, 2013
Grains tumble on Europe debt jitters, end-quarter balancing
US grains tumbled on Wednesday, and soybeans sank below $16 a bushel to their lowest price in nearly three months as worries about Europe's debt crisis had investors scrambling for safe-haven assets like US Treasury bonds.
The declines were accentuated as hedge funds booked profits ahead of the end of the month and quarter. Corn was on track for a second straight monthly decline, and soybeans headed for their first drop in four months.
Corn futures fell 2.5 percent to the lowest level in nearly three months. Like soybeans, corn was pressured by the harvest in the world's top grains exporter moving at a record clip, boosting supplies in the pipeline.
Investors had focused for more than three months on tight supplies brought on by the worst U.S. drought in half a century, but now they are turning their attention to macro-economic factors, including a stronger dollar, for price direction.
Corn futures were also weighed by US crude oil falling 1.5 percent and ethanol production in the United States slumping 3 percent last week to a two-month low.
China's corn imports are expected to drop just over 60 percent next year, according to a Reuters poll.
But the biggest market mover of the day was the debt crisis in Europe, which helped to strengthen the dollar and shift the attention away from fundamentals.
Investors worried about Europe's debt crisis as tens of thousands in Greece took to the streets in the country's biggest anti-austerity demonstration in months even as the European Central Bank began buying bonds to restore economic confidence.
Spain's Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was ready to seek a new rescue package if the country's debt financing costs remained too high for too long.
The dollar index, a measure against major currencies, was at a two-week high, rising 0.38 percent by 13:05 pm CDT (1805 GMT), raising the cost of US grains overseas.
Chicago Board of Trade November soybeans fell 38-1/2 cents, or 2.4 percent, to close at $15.73 a bushel. CBOT December corn was down 19 cents, or 2.6 percent, at $7.24-3/4 a bushel while December wheat fell 17-1/4 cents, or 2.0 percent, to $8.69-1/4.