GRAINS-Wheat prices hit 2-wk high as USDA lowers Russian forecast

    U.S. wheat futures edged up to hit a two-week high on Wednesday as the U.S. Department of Agriculture lowered its estimate for Russian production following prolonged dry weather.


    * The most active wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade were up 0.2 percent at $5.35-3/4 a bushel by 0034 GMT. They earlier hit their strongest since May 29 at $5.39 a bushel, having closed up 3.9 percent on Tuesday.

    * The most active soybean futures were up 0.1 percent at $9.55 a bushel, having closed little changed on Tuesday when prices hit their lowest since Jan 12 at $9.52 a bushel.

    * The most active corn futures were up 0.1 percent at $3.78 a bushel, after gaining 2.8 percent in the previous session.

    * The USDA raised its estimate of all U.S. wheat production for 2018/19 by 6 million bushels to 1.827 billion bushels, but it cut its Russia wheat harvest estimate to 68.50 million tonnes from 72.00 million tonnes.

    * Australia on Wednesday cut its forecast wheat production by nearly 8 percent for 2018/19 as prolonged dry weather across the country’s east coast crimps national output.

    * The agency also lowered its forecasts for U.S. corn and soy ending stocks for the 2018/19 crop year that begins on Sept. 1.

    * The USDA late on Monday reduced good-to-excellent crop condition ratings for the corn and soy crops by 1 percentage point, but the ratings are still some of the best in years, while weekend rainfall in the Midwest also benefited crops.

    * The dollar rallied against a basket of currencies on Tuesday ahead of Wednesday’s Federal Reserve policy decision, while the British pound whipsawed after Prime Minister Theresa May defeated a rebellion in parliament over Brexit plans.

    * Oil prices were mixed on Tuesday, with U.S. crude settling higher before falling in post-settlement trading, and Brent slipping as investors prepared for a key meeting of the OPEC producer group next week.

    * U.S. stocks ended slightly higher on Tuesday, boosted by gains in technology and utilities shares, though investors were cautious ahead of the Federal Reserve’s policy decision.
    Source: Reuters (Reporting by Colin Packham Editing by Joseph Radford)

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