CBOT corn outlook: Down 1-2c, profit-taking after Friday rally

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U.S. corn futures are poised to open slightly lower Monday in a minor correction following Friday's sharp gains.

Traders expect Chicago Board of Trade futures to open 1 to 2 cents lower. In overnight trade, corn for March delivery was down 1 cent to $7.11 per bushel.

The losses were due in part to profit-taking after a strong rally Friday that pushed the market up 3.8%. Analysts said there was little fresh negative news for the market, although traders remain jittery about the political unrest in the Middle East, and the potential for it to drive crude oil prices higher and slow the global economy. That would likely hurt commodity demand, analysts said.

Losses could be limited by a weaker U.S. dollar, analysts said. A weaker dollar is seen making U.S. exports more attractive.

Traders are still digesting the U.S. Department of Agriculture's projections from its annual Ag Outlook Forum. The USDA reaffirmed a projection that acreage would climb to 92 million from 88.2 million in 2010.

That projection was higher than expected and seen as negative for prices, but as FCStone noted in a Monday commentary, the "trade suspects that Ag Forum projections are totally overly optimistic." That could set the stage for another sharp rally if actual plantings disappoint this spring, the brokerage said.

Commerzbank said that even if those projections hold true, they are ultimately supportive to the market.

"The fact that corn inventories are set to remain low at the end of the crop year despite acreage expansion and an expected record crop is prompting speculative investors to bet on a further rise in prices," it said in Monday report.

With little fresh supply news expected soon, traders are closely watching demand reports to see how buyers are responding to prices. While some analysts had said demand was weakening, a recent dip in prices appeared to revive buying, with the USDA reporting weekly net export sales of 1.5 million metric tons last week. That helped prompt Friday's rally.

Meanwhile, farmers who would like to capitalize on prices approaching all-time highs may not have the grain to sell, said Jason Britt, president of Central State Commodities.

He said that many farmers appeared to have sold the majority of their grain right after the harvest.

"If that's the case, I think we could grind higher" in the weeks ahead, Britt said.



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