Weather drives US maize market


By Joanna Levin


MAIZE prices on the Chicago futures market are fluctuating from day to day on ever-changing weather updates. But many brokers predict a long-term downward trend for maize due to the likelihood of a heavily oversupplied market.


Prices came under pressure early last week as better weather enabled planting to continue. But mid-week forecasts of rain soon drove the market higher as traders cautioned against a possible interruption to spring drilling.


By Friday, 1 May, however, forecasts of better planting conditions once again drove prices lower. But that was reversed yesterday when the market gained renewed strength from forecasts of additional rain.


Officials estimate that 39% of the maize crop is now in the ground, compared with 46% this time last year and a five-year average of 30%. The first shoots of spring are starting to show through, with 4% of the new crop emerged.


Meanwhile, export demand remains poor, putting further pressure on prices. During the week ended April 30th, customs officials inspected only about 460,000 tonnes of maize for export, compared with about 700,000 tonnes a year ago.


Chicago corn futures continued their latest downward slide which started in mid-April, with the May contract hitting a new contract low of $2.43 on Friday, 1 May . Trading closed yesterday (Monday May 4) at $2.44/bushel, down 2¢ on the week.


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