U.S. grains: Soybeans ease on China tensions

Wheat gains on declining U.S. dollar, export hopes; corn mostly flat

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago soybeans softened on Friday as optimism over Chinese buying in the United States was tempered by political tensions between the two economic heavyweights.

Corn ended lower on strong crop conditions, while wheat rose on hopes of new U.S. export sales with the dollar remaining low.

The Chicago Board of Trade’s most active soybean contract ended down 3/4 cent at $8.99-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$).

CBOT corn ended 1/2 cent lower at $3.35 a bushel and wheat gained 10 cents to $5.39-1/2 a bushel.

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For the week, the most active CBOT corn fell 1.4 per cent, the third week of losses for the grain, while CBOT soybeans gained 0.5 per cent and CBOT wheat added 0.9 per cent, its fourth consecutive week of positive movement.

Tensions remained high as China ordered the U.S. consulate in Chengdu shut, retaliating against the closure of its Houston consulate.

“They’re going to shut this embassy down in this southwest province, but they just keep buying beans,” said Jason Ward, managing director at Northstar Commodity.

Weekly U.S. corn and soybean export sales reached multi-year highs in mid-July, propelled by big Chinese purchases.

U.S. exporters sold 252,000 tonnes of soybeans, for delivery to unknown destinations, and 133,000 metric tons of soybean cake and meal for delivery to the Philippines, USDA said Friday.

Rain forecasts across the U.S. Midwest this week pressured the corn market, though pockets of dryness have traders watching for reduced yields.

“The last 30 days have been really dry,” said Ward.

The U.S. Drought Monitor Thursday said much of western Iowa faced moderate to severe drought conditions.

Wheat rallied as diminished global production forecasts, combined with the U.S. dollar reaching lows not seen since September 2018, made U.S. grain competitive on the world stage.

“There’s rumours China’s nosing around for U.S. wheat again,” said Charlie Sernatinger, global head of grain futures at ED+F Man Capital Markets.

— Reporting for Reuters by Christopher Walljasper; additional reporting by Michael Hogan and Naveen Thukral.

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