GRAINS-Corn falls most in 3 years on improving U.S. crop prospects
* CBOT corn sags as funds liquidate long positions * Soybeans follow corn; weather seen as less threatening * USDA maintains U.S. corn crop ratings, cuts soybeans * Wheat nears one-month low as U.S. harvest continues (Recasts after further fall in futures; updates with closing prices) By Julie Ingwersen CHICAGO, June 21 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures tumbled nearly 6 percent on Tuesday, the biggest one-day slide in three years, as forecasts for less-threatening weather in the Midwest prompted funds to liquidate long positions, traders said. Soybeans and wheat followed corn's lead. K.C. hard red winter wheat futures <0#KW:> hit contract lows. At the Chicago Board of Trade, the July corn contract settled down its daily 25-cent limit at $3.96-1/4 a bushel, its lowest level since May 25. July soybeans ended down 10-1/4 cents at $11.33-1/4 a bushel after dropping to $11.28-3/4, near last week's low. CBOT July soft red winter wheat settled down 14-1/2 cents at $4.58-1/2 a bushel. Corn's 5.9 percent drop was the biggest for a spot contract since September 2013. After Tuesday's close, the CME Group, parent of the CBOT, said it would expand the daily trading limit in corn to 40 cents a bushel for Wednesday's session, expanding from the normal limit of 25 cents. Technical selling accelerated on Tuesday as new-crop December corn fell through chart support near $4.20. "It's grand-scale liquidation in the corn market due to better moisture in the forecast and cooling temperatures," said Tom Fritz, a partner with EFG Group in Chicago. "It looks like you hit some major sell-stops." Commodity funds had built up a massive net long position in CBOT corn in recent weeks as the spot contract neared a two-year high on export demand tied to tightening South American supplies and uncertainty about the U.S. growing season. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly crop progress report late on Monday rated 75 percent of the U.S. corn acreage in good to excellent condition, unchanged from the previous week, despite a hot spell in the Midwest. Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected a decline in crop ratings. Forecasters called for much-needed rains this week, easing worries about dryness. The USDA's report showed topsoil moisture declining in big corn states, including Iowa, Illinois and Missouri. "The prediction of rain has gone some way to allaying fears of an overly dry summer," Commerzbank said in a market note. Soybean futures sagged in sympathy with corn, although confirmation of fresh export sales of U.S. soybeans and soyoil lent underlying support. The USDA rated 73 percent of the U.S. soybean crop as good to excellent, down from 74 percent a week earlier and in line with trade expectations. CBOT wheat followed the weaker trend, with the July contract dipping to $4.57-1/4 a bushel, its lowest since May 12. The market faced additional seasonal pressure from the U.S. winter wheat harvest, which was 25 percent complete by Sunday, the USDA said. CBOT settlement prices: Net Pct Volume Name Last change change CBOT wheat Wc1 458.50 -14.50 -3.1 62553 CBOT corn Cc1 396.25 -25.00 -5.9 259718 CBOT soybeans Sc1 1133.25 -10.25 -0.9 75143 CBOT soymeal SMc1 393.30 -9.40 -2.3 39565 CBOT soyoil BOc1 31.36 -0.28 -0.9 45154 CBOT wheat, corn and soybeans shown in cents per bushel, soymeal in dollars per short ton and soyoil in cents per lb. (Additional reporting by Nigel Hunt in London and Melanie Burton in Melbourne; Editing by David Clarke and Andrew Hay)
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