U.S. grains: Soy falls on weak export data, planting expectations

(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. soybean futures fell on Thursday on disappointing weekly export data and expectations that U.S. farmers might increase soybean seedings this spring and plant less corn, analysts said.

Corn and wheat futures closed higher.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, July soybeans settled down 6-1/4 cents at $10.72 per bushel (all figures US$). The contract reached $10.89-3/4, but turned lower after failing for a second day to surpass Tuesday’s multi-month high of $10.91-1/2.

July corn ended up 11-1/2 cents at $3.89 a bushel and July wheat rose nine cents to $4.68 a bushel.

Soybeans fell after the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly export sales report put sales of U.S. old-crop soybeans in the latest week at 212,400 tonnes and new-crop sales at just 6,900 tonnes, below trade expectations.

“The bullish tone in soybeans is mostly built on a shortfall in the crop in South America. That shortfall is going to equate to much larger (U.S.) exports,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa.

However, Roose said, the weekly sales data cast doubt on strong U.S. soy export forecasts USDA released in a monthly report on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, wet weather forecast for the eastern U.S. Midwest, coupled with CBOT soybeans’ rally to multi-month highs, may prompt farmers to plant more soybeans and less corn.

Traders speculate USDA’s June 30 acreage report could show a shift of about one million acres from corn into soybeans compared to the government’s March 31 planting intentions report, said Steve Erdman with EFG Group in Chicago.

“A million is a common thought, and some guys are saying 1.5 to 2 million,” Erdman said.

The U.S. corn crop was 64 per cent planted as of May 8, but rainy weather may have slowed progress since then. Soybeans can be planted later than corn, so delays tend to favour soybeans.

CBOT corn also drew support from weekly U.S. export sales topping one million tonnes, and news that private exporters sold 210,000 tonnes of U.S. corn to Saudi Arabia in the last day.

Wheat advanced on better-than-expected weekly U.S. export sales and short covering. Commodity funds hold a large net short position in CBOT wheat, leaving the market vulnerable to short-covering rallies.

Wheat fundamentals remain bearish, with USDA forecasting that U.S. inventories will rise above one billion bushels by June 1, 2017, the most in 29 years.

Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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