By Joanna Newman

US maize prices dropped in thin trading between Christmas and New Year amid continuing fair weather conditions for grain farmers in the southern hemisphere.

However, the US market shrugged off these overseas concerns and staged a rebound this week as traders return to their desks.

Recent snow storms at home and forecasts of more wintry weather to come have raised expectations that US livestock producers will have to feed more grain to their cattle.

Storms have also hampered farmers efforts to bring maize to market further boosting prices.

The Chicago March futures contract jumped to 223.75¢/bushel on Wednesday (6 January), compared with 214.8¢ at the start of January.

Traders are confident on the maize market and are looking forward to the quarterly grain report next week, which is expected to show falling inventories due to a seasonal pick-up in consumption and stronger export activity.

During the first four months of the reporting year, 614 million bushels of maize were inspected for export, compared with 514 million bushels during the same period a year ago.

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