USDA reports send corn futures tumbling  Though corn futures have surged over the past 12 months, a new report on domestic supplies served to allay concerns, sending prices down in trading.

According to the Wall Street Journal, a report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) indicated that U.S. stockpiles are at larger-than-expected levels. What's more, the USDA raised its outlook for the fall harvest, which is a reversal of earlier reports from the agency that stated supplies would likely fall amid burgeoning demand.

The two USDA reports caught investors off guard, according to industry analysts, as one of them estimated U.S. farmers will plant 92.3 million acres of corn this spring. That figure is up 1.7 percent from an estimate the USDA gave only three weeks ago. The other report stated that U.S. corn inventories as of June 1 were at 3.67 billion bushels. While that number is 15 percent lower than year-ago levels, it still was well above many analysts' expectations.

Since the beginning of this year, corn futures - like many other commodities - have soared in value as supply outlooks remained far below global consumption rates. Corn futures hit record prices in early June as investors feared global demand would far outpace supplies, but the USDA's most recent reports helped to temper those concerns.

"This is a definitely a shock to the system. We had two whammies with acreage and stocks," North America Risk Management Services analyst Jerry Gidel told the WSJ.

According to USDA projections, corn plantings this year will likely hit their second-highest levels in nearly 65 years. Earlier reports had forecast lower plantings because of the inclement weather that many corn-producing countries - including the U.S. - endured recently. Though seed planting was delayed in early May in a majority of Midwest states, the USDA affirmed that "planting conditions improved during May in most of the corn-producing areas of the country."

"The USDA again surprised the market," Prime Agricultural Consultants Inc. market analyst Chad Henderson told Bloomberg News. "Rising acreage will add 200 million bushels to this year's corn crop. Demand rationing has taken place, and supplies are much more comfortable for 2012."

On the Chicago Board of Trade on Thursday at 1 p.m., corn futures for December delivery declined by 4.6 percent, or 30 cents, to trade at $6.20 per bushel. 
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