U.S. grains: Soy drops on profit-taking, corn up on bargain buying

U.S. soybean futures dropped 1.1 per cent on Monday, their biggest decline in more than two weeks, weighed down by profit-taking and weakness in the soymeal market.

Wheat also fell on a setback from recent highs but corn edged higher, with bargain buyers stepping in to lend support after prices staked out a fresh three-year low early in the session.

A bearish tone hung over agricultural markets amid concerns that China will limit which corn and soybeans will be allowed in government stocks. There was trade talk that China rejected another cargo of U.S. corn due to the discovery of an unapproved genetically modified variety in a shipment.

“Apparently the Chinese government announced that they are going to be hard core about what they’ll allow in government storage,” said Jack Scoville of The Price Futures Group. “The idea that they’re going to try to squeeze out a lot of the imports may reduce demand. That’s gotten into beans today.”

There was no confirmation of any fresh bans. China rejected a cargo of U.S. corn two weeks ago.

Soybeans came under pressure after hitting their highest since Sept. 19 during overnight trading.

“It has been a pretty good rally,” said Greg Grow, director of agribusiness at brokerage Archer Financial Services. “Beans have been a big leader. They are very high historically to corn right now.”

Weakness in soymeal futures, which dropped 2.1 per cent after December futures hit a contract high, also spilled over into soybeans.

Chicago Board of Trade January soybeans closed 15-1/4 cents lower at $13.21-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$).

“It has got to be the profit-taking,” said Mark Schultz, analyst with Northstar Commodity in Minneapolis. “Once it just got going, they just sold it off. The rally just kind of ran out of gas, ran out of buyers.”

Disappointing export data also contributed to the decline. The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Monday morning that export inspections of soybeans were 52.623 million bushels in the latest reporting week, below market forecasts for 60 million to 70 million bushels.

CBOT December corn settled up 1-1/4 cents at $4.16-1/2 a bushel. Prices bottomed out at $4.10 a bushel, the lowest for the front-month contract since Aug. 26, 2010, on Monday morning.

CBOT December wheat was 5-1/4 cents lower at $6.49-3/4 a bushel. Wheat firmed during the overnight trading session, hitting its highest price since Nov. 5.

The December contract ran into resistance and turned lower after failing to break through its 30-day moving average, a key technical point it has not surpassed since Oct. 30.

Good conditions for the crop in the U.S. Plains also weighed on wheat prices.

– Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent reporting on grain futures markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Karl Plume in Chicago.