U.S. grains: Soybeans hit two-week high on strong export sales

(Lisa Guenther photo)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures jumped to a two-week high on Thursday as stronger-than-expected export sales re-ignited concerns about dwindling old-crop supplies.

Corn futures advanced for the first time in four sessions, while wheat gained for a second straight session, bouncing from a four-month low set early on Wednesday.

Robust demand for U.S. soybeans lifted prices as the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales last week were 774,800 tonnes, above estimates for 250,000 to 550,000 tonnes. Within that total, sales of old-crop soybeans alone were 317,200 tonnes, a surprise for traders because inventories are scarce.

“Old-crop sales, people were thinking, would be none or even negative,” said Mike Krueger, president of the Money Farm in North Dakota.

The market could extend gains on Friday ahead of the release of a USDA report on Monday that is expected to show the country had 378 million bushels of soybeans in storage as of June 1, a 37-year low for that date, said Mark Gold, managing partner at Top Third Ag Marketing.

“In a tight market, where we know stocks are tight, you sure didn’t need to see anything like that,” he said, referring to the strong export sales.

Front-month soybean futures ended up 1.5 per cent at $14.37 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade (all figures US$). November soybean futures, which represent the crop that will be harvested in the autumn, rose 1.2 per cent to $12.44-1/4 a bushel. The upcoming harvest is expected to help replenish supplies.

Front-month corn futures rose 0.4 per cent to $4.42-3/4 a bushel amid positioning ahead of USDA’s reports on grain stocks and plantings on Monday. New-crop December corn gained 0.7 per cent to $4.43-1/4.

Plantings are uncertain following heavy rains that caused flooding in some northern growing areas.

Roach Ag Marketing, a brokerage, issued an acreage survey that pegged corn seedings at 89.3 million acres, below USDA’s March estimate for 91.7 million acres. Analysts expect USDA on Monday to peg seedings at 91.7 million, according to a Reuters poll.

Roach Ag estimated soy plantings at 81.6 million acres. USDA on Monday will likely increase its seedings estimate by 0.8 per cent from March to 82.2 million acres, according to the Reuters poll.

Analysts expect U.S. corn stocks were 3.722 billion bushels as of June 1, a four-year high for that date, and wheat stocks were 598 million bushels, which would be the lowest in six years.

Front-month wheat futures added 1.2 per cent to $5.82-1/4.

— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Colin Packham in Sydney and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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