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Published June 30, 2015, 01:55 PM

U.S. corn, soy stocks grow less than expected; demand strong

WASHINGTON - U.S. soybeans and corn stocks ballooned from a year ago but still missed market forecasts as strong demand ate into supplies, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Tuesday.

By: Mark Weinraub, Reuters

WASHINGTON - U.S. soybeans and corn stocks ballooned from a year ago but still missed market forecasts as strong demand ate into supplies, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Tuesday.

Wheat supplies were bigger than expected. U.S. wheat has struggled on the export market and weak prices for corn have cut demand for wheat from domestic livestock producers.

Both corn and soybean futures surged after the report was released, rallying to their highest since mid-January.

"The numbers imply much stronger-than-expected third-quarter usage for corn and soybeans," said Rich Nelson, chief strategist with Allendale Inc. "USDA will be forced to lower their ending stocks estimate on July 10."

USDA said that domestic corn stocks as of June 1 stood at 4.447 billion bushels, the highest for that time of year since 1988 and the fifth highest on record. Corn usage from March through May totaled 3.303 billion bushels, the second highest ever for the time period. A year ago, corn stocks were 3.852 billion bushels.

Soybean stocks as of June 1 were 625 million bushels, up from 405 million bushels a year earlier. The quarterly usage figure of 701 million bushels was the fourth biggest ever for the period.

Wheat stocks rose to 753 million bushels from 590 million bushels a year ago.

Market watchers had been expecting corn stocks of 4.555 billion bushels, soybean stocks of 670 million bushels and wheat stocks of 718 million bushels, according to the average of estimates in a Reuters poll.

USDA also said that U.S. farmers planted a record 85.139 million acres of soybeans despite heavy rains that plagued seeding efforts in May and June. That compares with 83.701 million acres a year ago and was above the government's March forecast of 84.635 million acres.

Corn plantings were 88.897 million bushels, down from 90.597 million acres last year and below the March forecast of 89.199 million acres. Corn acreage was the lowest since 2010.

All-wheat acreage was pegged at 56.079 million compared to 56.822 million last year and the USDA's March estimate of 55.367 million.

Analysts have said acreage could be revised to reflect the wet spring that stymied farmers' efforts to finish their seeding tasks. USDA said any changes would be made in its August crop production report.

Soybean futures posted sharp gains throughout June due to the planting delays. Corn and wheat also have rallied as the excessive rains raised concerns about crop quality.

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