U.S. grains: Soy, corn fall as hopes fade for China trade deal this year

CBOT December 2019 oats with 20-, 50- and 100-day moving averages. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures fell to a two-month low and soybean futures hit a seven-week low on Wednesday on fading expectations for a U.S.-China trade deal before the end of the year, analysts said.

Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures closed modestly higher on technical buying and concerns about this week’s decline in U.S. crop condition ratings.

CBOT December corn settled down 3-1/4 cents at $3.66-3/4 per bushel after dipping to $3.65-3/4, the contract’s lowest level since Sept. 18 (all figures US$). January soybeans ended down 6-1/2 cents at $9.05 a bushel after falling through chart support at $9.10.

CBOT December wheat closed 3-1/2 cents higher on the day at $5.15-1/2 a bushel.

Soybean futures fell to session lows after a report said a “phase one” trade deal between Washington and Beijing may not be completed this year. Completion of an initial trade deal could slide into next year, Reuters reported, citing trade experts and people close to the White House.

China is the world’s largest soy importer.

Both sides had pointed to progress in the talks in the past week, but U.S. President Donald Trump warned on Tuesday that his country would raise tariffs on Chinese imports if no deal was reached.

CBOT corn futures sagged even before Wednesday’s news report, weighed down by seasonal pressure from the ongoing U.S. harvest and liquidation ahead of the delivery phase for the December contract, which begins next week.

“It doesn’t seem like the farmer is selling that much, but there is always some selling at harvest,” said Dan Cekander, president of DC Analysis.

Weather forecasts for beneficial rains in crop areas of Brazil and Argentina added pressure, bolstering prospects for South American corn and soy production.

“The widespread rainfall next week should lead to significant improvements in soil moisture and will likely ease most of the remaining areas of dryness across central and southern Brazil, favoring corn and soybean growth,” space technology company Maxar said in a daily weather note.

Wheat futures firmed despite a lack of market-moving news, with analysts citing short covering and Monday’s weekly U.S. crop progress report in which the U.S. Department of Agriculture rated 52 per cent of the U.S. winter wheat crop in good to excellent condition, down from 54 per cent a week earlier.

“It’s been a strong market this week, with the crop ratings declining,” said Brian Hoops, president of Midwest Market Solutions.

CBOT December oat futures settled up 7-1/4 cents at $3.13-3/4 a bushel and notched a contract high at $3.19-1/2 on worries about supplies of milling-quality oats due to poor weather in Canada and a strike by Canadian National Railway (CN) workers that could slow transportation of oats.

“The strike will slow things down, and those grains take a back seat to everything else,” said Dan Anderson, analyst with ED+F Man Capital in Chicago.

Reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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