CHICAGO, April 28 (Reuters) - U.S. corn export sales surged 80 percent to the largest levels in four years, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed on Thursday, as tight supplies and dry growing conditions in Brazil prompted importers to buy from the United States.
Sales of 2.6 million tonnes for the week ended April 21, for delivery during the existing marketing season and the season beginning on Sept. 1, included the largest weekly corn sales to Japan in more than two years and the biggest sales to unknown destinations since January 2015.
Chicago Board of Trade corn futures reversed from losses to rise more than 2 percent after USDA released the data, with corn for July delivery up 8 cents at $3.92-3/4 in late-morning trading.
"Corn sales crushed expectations," CHS Hedging analyst Joe Lardy said in a note to clients.
U.S. corn export sales increased for the fourth week in a row as dry conditions in parts of Brazil stressed developing corn plants. The Brazilian government last week scrapped import taxes on corn from countries outside the Mercosur trade bloc, potentially clearing the way for U.S. imports.
Significant sales volumes to unknown destinations, in which USDA can leave the origin undisclosed until shipment, prompted speculation that U.S. corn was sold into Brazil, as poultry producers in the northeast part of the country are battling record-high feed prices.
Bunge Ltd Chief Executive Officer Soren Schroder told analysts on Thursday that dry weather in Brazil could reduce the winter corn crop there by 5 million to 10 million tonnes, resulting in a similar drop to exports.
Reporting by Michael Hirtzer and Karl Plume; Editing by Matthew Lewis