By Joanna Newman

US maize prices have continued to slip lower through uneventful trade over recent days.

The driving force for US maize prices at this time of year is the weather in South America. Favourable planting conditions for soya bean producers in Argentina and Brazil are driving down soya bean prices in the US and this in turn is putting pressure on the domestic maize market.

The Chicago December futures contract closed on Monday (7 December) at 215.25¢/bushel, almost unchanged from a week ago. Thanks to subsidies in the form of Government Loan Deficiency Payments (LDPs) US maize farmers can afford to hang on to their crop for now.

This unsold inventory in producers hands is also discouraging any market rally. With prices down 20% from year-ago levels, farmers are in no rush to sell.

The latest export figures were disappointing. In the week ended 3 December, export inspections of maize totalled 28.9 million bushels, compared with expectations of 38-44 million bushels.

However, this is only a minor setback. Over the first thirteen weeks of the export calendar which starts in the autumn, the USA has exported 454.3 million bushels, up from 403.5 million a year ago.

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