U.S. grains: Soy hits six-week high on China demand

U.S. soybean futures rose one per cent to a six-week high on Tuesday, lifted by export demand for U.S. soybeans, particularly from China, along with spillover support from palm oil, traders said.

Corn retreated from a two-week high on profit-taking and light farmer selling, and wheat drifted lower, falling for a seventh consecutive session.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, most-active January soybeans settled up 13-1/2 cents at $13.14-1/2 per bushel, after reaching $13.19-3/4, the contract’s highest since Sept. 27 (all figures US$).

CBOT December corn ended down 2-1/2 cents at $4.32-1/4 a bushel. December wheat fell one cent at $6.45-1/4 a bushel.

Soybeans drew support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reporting export inspections of U.S. soybeans at 79.697 million bushels, within the range of trade estimates. Nearly 60 million tonnes were earmarked for China, the world’s biggest soy consumer.

“The inspections showed a still-strong interest for short-term beans; this is not unexpected,” said Rich Nelson, an analyst with Allendale Inc. at McHenry, Illinois.

“We are still seeing concern about USDA’s export numbers, and the idea that China only needs to buy a little more to beat USDA’s estimates,” he said.

As of Oct. 31, two months into the 2013-14 marketing year, U.S. soybean export sales stood at 33.25 million tonnes, 84 per cent of the USDA’s full-season forecast of 39.46 million tonnes.

“Our export pace is very strong,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities at West Des Moines, Iowa. “We’ve got an inverted market that is trying to pull beans away from the producer, and it hasn’t done it very gracefully yet. We are trying to re-stock a depleted pipeline.”

Soymeal futures posted the biggest gains in the soy complex, with December nearing a two-month high.

In addition, CBOT soyoil drew support as Malaysian palm oil futures jumped on concerns that the typhoon in the Philippines would tighten supplies of other vegetable oils and shift demand to palm oil-based substitutes.

CBOT soybeans rallied from early declines attributed to improved planting prospects in South America.

Conditions are now nearly perfect for soybean planting in Argentina, the world’s top soyoil and soymeal exporter and the No. 3 soybean and corn supplier.

Corn sets back from two-week high

CBOT corn turned down after the bellwether December contract touched $4.38 a bushel, its highest level since Oct. 28, inspiring a round of profit-taking and hedge-related selling.

“What happens on these pushes is that you have an increase in farmer selling,” Roose said.

Also bearish, investment bank Goldman Sachs lowered its three- and six-month price forecasts for CBOT corn to $4 per bushel from $4.25, and forecast prices would fall to $3.75 in 12 months.

Goldman, in a note to clients dated Monday, cited “our expectation for U.S. corn inventories near two billion bushels.”

The bank forecast that U.S. soybean plantings would rise in 2014 to a record 83 million acres from 76.5 million in 2013, and it forecast U.S. 2014 corn plantings at 92.5 million acres, down from 95.3 million in 2013.

The 2013 harvest is winding down. Ahead of a weekly USDA report due later on Tuesday, a Reuters poll of 10 analysts pegged the U.S. soybean harvest as 94 per cent complete as of Sunday, and the corn harvest at 84 per cent complete.

CBOT wheat notched its seventh straight lower close, the market’s longest losing streak since an eight-day skid in June. The market firmed early on short-covering but fell on lacklustre export demand and adequate global wheat supplies.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters correspondent covering ag commodity markets in Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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