GRAINS: U.S. soybeans extend advance on exports, weather worries

Reuters — U.S. soybean prices rose to a near two-week high on Thursday on firm export demand and concerns that dry weather in parts of the Midwest crop belt might jeopardize yield prospects, traders said.

Corn futures fell to fresh four-year lows, retreating from early gains, and wheat also fell.

At the Chicago Board of Trade as of 12:33 p.m. CDT (1733 GMT), the front August soybean contract was up 10-1/4 cents at $12.11-1/4 a bushel after reaching $12.32-3/4, the highest spot price since July 11.

September corn was down 2 cents at $3.60-1/2 a bushel after dipping to $3.56-1/2. September wheat was down 1 cent at $5.29-3/4 a bushel.

Soybeans roared to session highs after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales in the latest week at more than 2.5 million tonnes, including 2.45 million for the 2014/15 marketing year – topping trade expectations.

“Corn sales were good, bean sales were great,” said Dale Durchholz, a market analyst with AgriVisor in Bloomington, Illinois.

Further support stemmed from worries about U.S. soybean yield prospects. The USDA has forecast the U.S. soybean yield at a record-high 45.2 bushels per acre, but the crucial period for determining yields is next month.

“If the weather turns somewhat adverse, beans have more upside potential than corn. So the specs are willing to buy beans, and to a lesser degree sell corn,” said Dan Basse, president of AgResource Co in Chicago.

Corn rose early on short-covering and strong export sales. The USDA put weekly sales of the grain at 1.14 million tonnes for 2014/15, above market estimates.

But prices retreated as traders became increasingly confident of a large U.S. crop.

Also bearish was news that China will require imports of U.S. distillers’ dried grains (DDGs), a corn byproduct, to be certified as free of an unapproved genetically modified trait known as MIR-162. China stopped issuing import permits for U.S. DDGs in June.

“It is a protectionist measure,” said Basse. “The Chinese have very aptly and smartly been able to prevent DDGs from coming in, and maintain their own corn supply at a higher price. That’s what this is about. China has too much corn,” Basse said. Wheat prices sagged but held above contract lows set on Wednesday amid rising global supplies and strong export competition.

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