(The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters.)

NAPERVILLE, Illinois: Speculators have been net sellers across U.S. grain and oilseed futures for nine consecutive weeks, coinciding with a heavy easing in prices, and fresh lows came in the following days amid bearish government supply outlooks through 2025.

In the week ended Feb. 13, money managers’ combined net short position in Chicago corn and soybeans rose by nearly 21,000 contracts to 448,841 futures and options contracts. The record is 455,225 set in April 2019.

Combined corn and soybean open interest as of Feb. 13 topped 3 million futures and options contracts for the first time since June 2022, up 19% from the unusually light year-ago levels but close to recent averages for the date.

CBOT May corn and soybean futures in the week ended Feb. 13 both declined more than 1%. Individually, money managers’ net short in CBOT corn rose to 314,341 futures and options contracts, the second largest on record. That compared with 297,744 a week earlier and mostly involved new gross shorts.

In CBOT soybean futures and options, the Feb. 13 managed money net short was the fifth largest on record at 134,500 contracts, up from 130,300 in the prior week. That marked funds’ 13th consecutive week as net sellers in beans, and the pre-2024 selling record was 10 consecutive weeks.

Money managers in the week ended Feb. 13 returned to heavier selling in CBOT soybean meal, pushing their net short to 27,592 futures and options contracts from 14,590 a week earlier as new shorts entered the market. Funds were net buyers of meal in the prior week but sellers in the 10 weeks before that.

In CBOT soybean oil, money managers were net buyers for a second consecutive week through Feb. 13, trimming their net short to 35,440 futures and options contracts from 44,225 a week earlier. CBOT May soyoil had jumped 3% in the week but May soymeal lost more than 4%.

Nearby CBOT wheat contracts were mixed in the week ended Feb. 13, but money managers cut their net short in CBOT wheat futures and options to 55,672 contracts from 66,738 a week earlier, marking their least bearish wheat view since early August.

However, CBOT wheat plunged more than 6% between Wednesday and Friday, its biggest three-session tumble since September. May corn fell 3% in the last three sessions, and both wheat and corn hit contract lows on Friday.

May soymeal notched contract lows on Thursday but were relatively unchanged the last three sessions, and May soyoil fell 3.6%. May soybeans were down more than 1% over this period, and beans hit new three-plus-year lows on a most-active basis on Thursday.

On Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued unofficial U.S. supply and demand outlooks for the 2024-25 season beginning Sept. 1, and corn, soybean and wheat stocks are all seen growing significantly versus the current season.

The heaviest numbers came in corn, as projected 2024-25 U.S. corn ending stocks would be the largest since 1988. Next year’s soybean stocks are seen at five-year highs but more than 50% above the past four years’ average.

U.S. markets were closed on Monday, but European wheat futures on Monday hit 2-1/2 year lows under pressure from large stocks and stiff Black Sea export competition. Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.

(Editing by Chris Reese)