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U.S. grains: Soy, corn sag on trade uncertainty, harvest progress

New purchases from Egypt lift CBOT wheat

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn and soybean futures fell on Wednesday on uncertainty surrounding the particulars of U.S.-China trade talks, along with pressure from the expanding Midwest harvest, analysts said.

Wheat futures bucked the weak trend, climbing on technical buying and news that Egypt, a top global importer, bought 405,000 tonnes of wheat in its latest international tender.

Chicago Board of Trade December corn settled down 1-1/2 cents at $3.91-3/4 per bushel and November soybeans ended down six cents at $9.28 a bushel (all figures US$). CBOT December wheat rose 6-1/4 cents to end at $5.13-1/4 a bushel.

Traders continue to watch for fresh Chinese demand for U.S. agricultural products. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Friday that China had agreed to purchase $40 billion to $50 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods in a first phase of an agreement to end a 15-month trade war.

But China would make the purchases only if Trump rolls back levies put in place since the trade war began, Bloomberg reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

“We are looking for Chinese demand and we are not really hearing of it yet,” said Jack Scoville, analyst with the Price Futures Group in Chicago.

Trump on Wednesday said he likely would not sign any trade deal with China until he meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping at a forum in Chile being held Nov. 11-17.

Meanwhile, the U.S. corn and soy harvest is progressing under clearing skies in much of the Midwest this week, even as crop maturity has lagged following widespread planting delays this past spring.

“The yield reports I’ve seen today are kind of all over the map … But the fact we are able to start getting out there and doing some field work is keeping (futures) under a little bit of pressure,” Scoville said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture late on Tuesday said the U.S. corn harvest was 22 per cent complete and the soybean harvest was 26 per cent complete.

Corn futures shrugged off support from USDA’s confirmation that private exporters sold 228,600 tonnes of U.S. corn to Mexico.

CBOT wheat futures rose, supported by news that Egypt bought 405,000 tonnes of Russian, French and Ukrainian wheat, at higher prices than what it paid at its last international tender on Oct. 8.

“They (Egypt) are paying firmer prices. That’s supporting the wheat market overall,” Scoville said.

Commodity funds hold a net short position in CBOT wheat futures, according to U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission commitments data, leaving the market open to periodic short-covering rallies.

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

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