U.S. grains: Soybeans top US$9 on Chinese demand

(Keith Weller photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. soybean futures traded at the highest levels in nearly two months, topping US$9 a bushel on fresh export demand from top buyer China and global weather worries, analysts said.

Wheat and corn also climbed, with wheat up more than two per cent after a four-session slide.

At the Chicago Board of Trade, the November soybean contract settled up 26-1/2 cents at $9.14 per bushel (all figures US$). Technical buying accelerated as the contract pushed through its 50-day moving average near $8.93 and then the $9 mark.

The market extended gains after the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed sales of 240,000 tonnes of soybeans to China in the last day.

Also, USDA reported weekly export inspections of U.S. soybeans at more than 1.8 million tonnes, topping a range of trade estimates.

Meanwhile, Chinese customs data showed the country imported 7.26 million tonnes of soybeans in September.

“This may be the second monthly decline following the record figure achieved in July, yet the September import level this year was nonetheless much higher than in previous years,” Commerzbank analysts said in a note.

The customs data put China’s 2014-15 soybean imports at a record high of 78.3 million tonnes, above USDA’s current estimate of 77 million.

“I think the market will assume that the 2015-16 (imports) can beat what USDA is suggesting right now,” said Mike Zuzolo of Global Commodity Analytics. The USDA has projected China’s 2015-16 soybean imports at 79 million tonnes.

Some analysts were turning their attention to South America, where producers are seeding the 2015-16 soybean crop.

“It is dry in the biggest (Brazilian soy) area, Mato Grosso. It’s probably not an issue yet, but it’s on the radar,” said Don Roose of U.S. Commodities.

Corn followed soybeans higher, despite pressure from the U.S. harvest underway. After the markets closed, USDA said the corn harvest was 42 per cent complete by Sunday and the soybean harvest reached 62 per cent, in line with trade expectations.

CBOT December corn settled up 3-3/4 cents at $3.84-1/2 a bushel.

CBOT wheat firmed on short-covering and worries about dry weather hampering winter wheat germination in portions of the southern U.S. Plains, Russia and Ukraine.

“My clients out in western Kansas are saying they are trying to slow down (seeding wheat) until they get a rain. But they see frost coming, and they know once you get frost, it’s going to be harder to get the wheat in,” Zuzolo said.

CBOT December wheat ended up 12-1/4 cents at $5.19 a bushel.

Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral and Gus Trompiz.

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