Corn for December delivery declined 12.5 cents to settle at $7.42 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, a one-week low for the front-month contract.
The drop came after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said net export sales for corn for the week through Oct. 18 totaled 142,300 metric tons. That was below analyst estimates that ranged from 150,000 to 375,000 tons.
The lackluster report highlighted how foreign importers, including China and Japan, have bypassed U.S. corn after prices soared to record highs this past summer as a severe drought damaged crops.
Thursday's sales figures "were not very good, just like they haven't been very good for several weeks now," said Steve DeCook, president of Four Seasons Commodities Corp., a trading advisory firm that manages about $40 million. "There's just no reason to buy" corn futures, said Mr. DeCook.
Corn futures have fallen 10.7% from their nominal all-time closing high of $8.3125 a bushel on Aug. 21, pressured by reduced demand as the record prices deterred corn buyers.
Both export sales and production of corn-based ethanol have fallen off, and traders are concerned about weakening demand from livestock and poultry farmers, who use corn in animal feed.
China's purchases of U.S. corn were strong early this year, but slowed over the summer as prices rose. In addition, exports to South Korea, Japan and Taiwan so far this calendar year are down from a year earlier.
Still, analysts warn that with tight supplies, corn prices need to stay high to keep demand down...
Source: Argentine Beef Packers S.A.
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