U.S. soybean futures turned lower on Tuesday on active harvesting of the U.S. soybean crop and persistent reports of better-than-expected yields. Corn also eased on seasonal harvest pressure and big yields, while wheat turned up on bargain buying and a partial reversal of the technical downturn that occurred during Monday's trading session.
A lower U.S. dollar index and strong gains in gold limited the slide of corn and soy and helped boost wheat futures. A weak dollar makes U.S. commodities a more profitable purchase for overseas buyers using currencies such as the yen or euro.
Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) November soybeans closed down 1 cent per bushel at $13.02-1/4 per bushel, December corn was down 5-3/4 at $4.38-1/4, and December wheat was up 1 cent at $7.00-3/4.
Trading was very quiet and the volume was light with commodity funds selling an estimated net 5,000 CBOT corn contracts or 25 million bushels. The funds sold and estimated 1,000 soybean contracts or 5 million bushels and bought 1,000 wheat contracts or 5 million bushels.
Traders and analysts said the soy and corn markets were garnering significant attention due to reports of big yields in the U.S. autumn harvest.
"The surprise is not that we are down but that we didn't see a more significant sell-off," said Arlan Suderman, senior market analyst for Water Street Advisory.
Suderman said the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) weekly crop progress report, released late on Monday, confirmed that U.S. soybean and corn yields were above expectations.
USDA data showed the condition of the U.S. soybean crop as of Sunday at 57 percent good-to-excellent, up from 53 percent at the end of September.
Corn conditions were at 60 percent good-to-excellent versus 55 percent at the end of September.
The USDA did not issue crop progress reports during the roughly three weeks the federal government was shut down.
"It's not unusual for crop ratings to turn higher as harvest progresses, but the increase from Sept. 30 was bigger than most, suggesting nearly a 4-bushel increase in the corn yield and nearly 3/4 bushel increase in soybeans," Suderman said.
"However, the increase put the corn yield only slightly above the Reuters trade survey," he said.
A Reuters poll of 16 analysts late last week showed, on average U.S. corn yield per acre at 157.175 bushels per acre, above USDA's current forecast for 155.3, and soy yields at 41.931 bushels per acre, up from USDA's outlook for 41.2.
"Harvest progress was good and I think there is profit-taking and technical selling around the $13 level in beans," said Mike Zuzolo, analyst for Global Commodity Analytics.
USDA showed the corn harvest 39 percent complete and the soybean harvest 63 percent complete, and further progress is expected this week.
Light showers early this week accompanied by some light snow will cause only minor slowdowns in harvesting the 2013 U.S. corn and soybean crops, an agricultural meteorologist said on Tuesday.
"There will be a few light showers today in the central Midwest, then it will be dry the rest of the week through Saturday," said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MDA Weather Services.
(Editing by Marguerita Choy)