By Joanna Levin

MAIZE prices were depressed for most of last week, touching new contract lows before rebounding slightly on Friday on forecasts of adverse weather.

In common with other grains markets, maize is oversupplied. Officials at the US Department of Agriculture last week forecast maize carry-over stocks would climb to 1.61 billion bushels for 1988-89, 350m bushels more than 1997-98.

But export figures were better than expected, with inspections totalling 33.62m bushels for the week ended 4 June, well ahead of the expected 17-24m bushels.

Nevertheless, analysts warn that the USA will have to export 380m bushels by August if the total export target of 1.48bn bushels for 1997/98 is to be achieved.

That means exports must increase by 8% on the same period last year and, if the USDA is forced to lower its expectations and increases its crop yield forecast, prices will come under further pressure.

The market closed narrowly mixed, with the Chicago July futures contract losing 0.75¢ on the week to close at $2.363/bushel. The December futures contract gained 1.75¢ to $2.448/bushel.

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