Profit-taking is expected to weigh on U.S. corn futures Tuesday after the market finished at an all-time high settlement Monday.
Traders and analysts predict corn for May delivery, the most-actively traded contract, will start 4 to 5 cents a bushel lower at the Chicago Board of Trade. In overnight electronic trading, the contract dropped 4 1/2 cents, or 0.6%, to $7.55 3/4 a bushel.
Traders are taking money off the table after prices surged nearly 15% since Thursday on renewed worries about strong demand draining supplies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture ignited the rally when it said corn inventories as of March 1 were lower than expected, indicating high prices had not cooled demand for the grain.
"I think we'll pull back," said Larry Glenn, broker and analyst at Frontier Ag, a brokerage firm in Kansas.
Yet, the setback will likely be temporary due to ongoing concerns about the need to curb demand by raising prices. Corn futures have already more than doubled since last summer on strong export demand, record U.S. ethanol output and steady buying by domestic livestock producers. Farmers have struggled to keep pace, even though the U.S. crop last year was the third largest on record.
Corn futures Monday matched the all-time intraday high of $7.65 a bushel, set in 2008, but did not exceed it. Traders predict the market will take another stab at topping the intraday high. Prices may climb to $8 a bushel in the next three months due to strong demand, said Colin O' Shea, head of commodities at Hermes Fund Managers Ltd., which manages more than $2 billion of assets for institutional investors.
Buyers have continued booking U.S. corn even after the latest surge. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Tuesday private exporters struck deals to sell 101,600 metric tons of corn to unknown destinations.
The deal reminded traders of a recent sale of 1.25 million tons of corn to unknown destinations, thought to be China. Yet, analysts said Tuesday's sale probably wasn't to China because the quantity was small and China is expected to buy in larger quantities. The latest sale does not add too much heat to the recent rally because it was for delivery in the marketing year that begins in September, when farmers will be starting to replenish supplies with corn from the new harvest.