Chicago | Reuters –– Soybean futures firmed Thursday on signs that export demand for U.S. supplies remained robust despite expectations of bumper harvests in Argentina and Brazil, traders said.
Wheat and corn futures were weaker, pressured by ample global supplies, but both commodities remained within recent ranges.
Soybeans received an additional boost from technical buying after the benchmark Chicago Board of Trade March contract hit its 10-day moving average, which has been a level of support throughout the month.
The U.S. Agriculture Department on Thursday morning said weekly soybean export sales were a stronger-than-expected 746,200 tonnes.
“South America is not really taking over our export base; that’s probably the No. 1 thing,” said Bill Gentry, broker at Risk Management Commodities in Lafayette, Indiana. “Since the (South American) crop is not ready yet, it is not really direct competition.”
Domestic demand for soybeans also was strong, causing U.S. cash market dealers to tighten basis bids to drum up sales from farmers.
CBOT March soybeans settled up 6 cents at $9.83-3/4 a bushel. CBOT March corn was 2-3/4 cents lower at $3.83 a bushel (all figures US$). It was the third straight lower close for corn. Prices have fallen 2.1 per cent during the streak.
CBOT soft red winter wheat for March delivery ended down 4-1/2 cents at $5.21-1/4 a bushel.
Dealers said the market looked set to move sideways in the short term, with possible rallies constrained by the global supply glut.
“We are more bearish than consensus forecasts due to ongoing concerns about oversupply, weak demand growth estimates and record high inventories,” Intesa Sanpaolo analyst Daniela Corsini said in a market note.
Corsini forecast that CBOT corn futures would fall to $3.50 a bushel in the second quarter before recovering slightly to $3.70 in the fourth quarter.
— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore, Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Nigel Hunt in London.