CANBERRA: Chicago wheat futures edged lower on Tuesday, pressured by large exports of cheap grain from Russia and an upward revision to U.S. production forecasts, but concerns over poor harvests in Argentina and Australia limited losses.
Corn and soybean prices fell.
* Most-active Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures were down 0.1% at $5.64-1/4 a bushel by 0032 GMT after falling on Friday to $5.40, the lowest since September 2020.
* CBOT corn fell 0.4% to $4.87 a bushel and soybeans were 0.4% lower at $12.71-3/4 a bushel.
* Wheat futures plunged 6.4% on Friday after the U.S. government unexpectedly raised its estimate for U.S. production to 1.812 billion bushels from 1.734 billion bushels.
* Price pressure also comes from Russian exports, with 12.5%-protein Russian wheat for free-on-board (FOB) delivery in late October-early November still priced at $235 per metric ton, according to the IKAR agriculture consultancy.
* The European Union's crop monitoring service MARS raised its estimate for Russia's 2023 wheat harvest to 89.7 million tons from 86.7 million tons forecast in June.
* However, Ukrainian grain exports fell to 6.68 million metric tons so far in the 2023/24 July-June season from 8.99 million tons in the same period of 2022/23, government data showed, with only 7,000 tons exported on Oct. 1.
* That said, three more cargo ships left Ukrainian seaports on Sunday and five new vessels came in for loading, raising hopes via the Black Sea will become easier and cheaper.
* Longer term, attention will move to Australia, Argentina and Canada, which harvest later in the year and where hot and dry weather has damaged crops.
* Turning to corn and soybeans, U.S. government data showed on Monday that harvests of both crops were 23% complete by Sunday, slightly behind analyst expectations.
* Soybean condition ratings improved very slightly, easing concerns of tight supplies after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported higher-than-expected stockpiles.
* Brokers StoneX raised their estimate of U.S. 2023 corn production to 15.202 billion bushels from 15.102 billion a month ago and of U.S. soybean production to 4.175 billion bushels from 4.144 billion a month ago.
* Brazil's 2023/24 soybean planting reached 5.2% of the expected area last week, the quickest pace ever for the period, an agribusiness consultancy said.
* Brazil is the world's biggest exporter of soybeans and corn. The United States is the second biggest.
* Argentina's government said it would extend a program to boost grain exports to shore up the country's meagre foreign exchange reserves.
* Argentina's exports of grain, oilseeds and their derivatives tumbled 75% year-on-year in September to just over $2 billion, the country's Chamber of the Oil Industry (CIARA) and Grain Exporters Center (CEC) said.
* Commodity funds were net buyers of Chicago corn, wheat, soyoil and soybean futures on Monday, and net sellers of soymeal, traders said.
MSCI's global index of stocks kicked off fourth-quarter trading with a decline as concerns that U.S. interest rates will stay higher for longer pushed up U.S. Treasury yields and the dollar.
(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Rashmi Aich)