U.S. grains: Soybeans retreat from multi-month highs


Chicago | Reuters –– Chicago Board of Trade soybean prices fell on Wednesday, retreating from multi-month highs on profit-taking, farmer selling and rumours of South American soymeal cargoes being shipped to the U.S., traders said.

Wheat prices rose on concerns that a cold spell in the U.S. Plains and Midwest could halt early crop growth, while corn firmed on technical buying.

At the CBOT, most-active January soybeans settled down 16-1/4 cents at $10.47-3/4 a bushel after earlier surging to $10.86-1/4, the contract’s highest level since Aug. 11 (all figures US$).

“There is some chatter that there may be some buying of Argentine meal. And it looks like some profit-taking going on here today,” said Rich Feltes, vice-president of research at R.J. O’Brien.

December soymeal hit a contract high at $417.60 per ton before retreating and settling at $395. Soymeal led the grains floor higher in recent days as heavy export commitments and a slow pace of U.S. farmer soybean sales left soy processors scrambling for supplies.

But some observers said the market was overheated.

“We are looking at South American soymeal premiums breaking the last two days, so that has made their meal cheaper. It suggests the fundamentals may be getting ahead of themselves,” said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading at Fowler, Indiana.

Wheat and corn held firm despite the breakdown in soy. CBOT December wheat ended up 17-1/2 cents at $5.42-3/4 a bushel, with December corn up four cents at $3.77-3/4.

December corn hit a near four-month high of $3.85 a bushel before paring gains, breaking through resistance at $3.81, a “double-top” on the contract’s chart.

Wheat was buoyed by concerns of drought damage to the Australian harvest and a U.S. cold spell that is likely to halt early winter wheat growth, and may pose a winterkill threat in a few areas.

Traders were also monitoring escalating tensions between Russia and Ukraine, both major grain exporters. Ukraine said it was redeploying troops in the eastern part of the country because of fears that separatists there will launch a new military offensive despite Moscow’s denials it has sent troops to reinforce the pro-Russia rebels.

“Neither Russia nor Ukraine can afford to shut off their export sectors. They both need hard currency, and that will keep it away from interrupting agricultural trade,” said Shawn McCambridge, analyst at Jefferies Bache in Chicago.

But McCambridge added: “When these tensions start to build, anything is possible. So that is the concern.”

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

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