Agriculture futures saw strength on Tuesday as quarterly gain stocks data was reported by the Department of Agriculture.

Corn for May delivery rallied to $4.04, up $18.4 per bushel. Stockpiles totaled 6.96 billion bushels, up 1 percent from a year ago. Corn stored on farms rose 8%, while off-farm stocks fell 7 percent from a year ago.

May-dated soybeans gained 47.4 cents to $9.52 a bushel. Soybeans inventories were reported at 1.30 billion bushels, down 9%. Soybean stocks stored on farms gained 11% but off-farm stocks were down 23%.

Wheat for May settlement added 20.2 cents to $5.326 a bushel. Wheat stocks totaled 1.04 billion bushels, up 46%. On-farm stocks rose 205% from last March and off-farm stocks were up 23% from a year ago.

On the economic front, a report showed that the S&P/Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price Index for January fell 19.0 percent compared to the same month a year ago, reflecting an acceleration from the 18.6 percent year-over-year decline reported for December.

Later, a report released by the Institute for Supply Management - Chicago showed that the index of activity in the sector fell to 31.4 in March from 34.2 in February, with a reading below 50 indicating a contraction in the sector. Economists had been expecting the index to edge up to a reading of 34.3.

Meanwhile, the Conference Board's consumer confidence index edged up to 26.0 in March from a record low reading of 25.3 in February, although economists had been expecting a somewhat more significant increase by the index to a reading of 28.0.

In other commodity trading, light sweet crude for May delivery ended at $49.66, up $1.05 for the session. After falling as low as $47.77, oil briefly touched $50 in afternoon trading.

Traders also looked forward to the release of the inventory data at 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday. Last week's report showed crude oil inventories increased 3.3 million barrels in the week ended March 20. Analysts were expecting a rise of about 1.2 million barrels. The build is the 22nd in 26 weeks.

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