U.S. soy crumbles as China cancels purchases

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soybean futures fell on Wednesday following news that China, the world’s largest buyer of soybeans, had cancelled an order for U.S. soy.

Corn was mixed, with old-crop falling on profit-taking. But new-crop December rose for the fifth day in a row, hitting a one-month high as wet weather hampered U.S. corn plantings, threatening yield and production prospects.

Wheat rose on short-covering and mounting concern that portions of the U.S. wheat crop could be harmed by the persistent rainfall and, in some areas, flooding.

CBOT old-crop July soybeans ended down 7-1/2 cents per bushel at $15.01-3/4 while new-crop November finished up 1/2 cent at $12.88-1/2 (all figures US$).

Old-crop July corn settled down 1-1/2 cents at $6.65 a bushel while December ended up 14-3/4 cents at $5.65-3/4, after hitting $5.68, its highest level since April 30.

CBOT wheat for July delivery ended 9 cents higher at $7.02-3/4 a bushel.

Traders and analysts said the downtrending soybean market put a damper on any bullish momentum or buying in the soybean, corn and wheat markets.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture said private exporters reported the cancellation of sales of 147,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China for delivery this marketing year.

“China and the world in general right now are more interested in buying from South America. Our (U.S.) cash basis had gotten too high for the old-crop and they’re correcting now,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities in West Des Moines, Iowa.

USDA data shows 281,849 tonnes in outstanding old-crop (2012-13) soybean sales to China as of May 16, and 718,875 tonnes to unknown buyers, a good share of which is likely intended for China.

“We’ve seen the China cancellation of old-crop beans, and the trade is assuming there will be more now that Brazil is ramping up sales as their logistics is straightened out,” said Mike Zuzolo, analyst for Global Commodity Analytics.

Brazil had a bumper soybean crop this season and has been expected to become an active seller of soy to China, but difficulty shipping the soy has been an issue, until now.

Weather threatens prospects

While nearby soy and corn contracts fell, deferred contracts representing the 2013 harvest rose on worries about planting delays. Wet weather continues to stymie U.S. farmers’ attempts to make rapid progress planting soybeans and finish the remaining corn sowings.

The November soybean contract surpassed its 200-day moving average of $12.91-1/2 and reached $12.95, its highest level since Feb. 22, before paring gains. And December corn broke through chart resistance at its 100-day moving average of $5.56-1/4, settling at $5.65-3/4.

“There is still concern about getting corn in the ground in the wet areas. It’s raining now and there’s more rain in the forecast,” said Phyllis Nystrom, grain analyst for CHS Hedging in Minneapolis.

Excessive rain late this week will further slow U.S. corn and soybean plantings and there is a risk of additional flooding that could harm crops in low-lying areas, an agricultural meteorologist said.

“It will be wettest beginning Thursday, with the heaviest rains in Missouri, Iowa and Illinois,” said Don Keeney, a meteorologist for MDA Weather Services.

Keeney said there would be widespread rains of more than one inch, with many areas receiving two to three inches or more. It will also rain in the central U.S. Plains and in the northern Plains with downpours of two to four inches or more on Thursday and Friday.

“Next week there will be more rain in the northwest Midwest but drier in the southern Midwest,” Keeney said.

U.S. farmers slowed the pace of planting during the past week due to rainy conditions that delayed the tail end of corn seeding and pushed soybean planting to its slowest pace in 17 years, USDA said in its weekly crop progress report on Tuesday.

The agency reported U.S. corn planting at 86 per cent complete and soybean planting 44 per cent as of Sunday. The figures compare with five-year averages of 90 per cent for corn and 61 per cent for soybeans.

— Sam Nelson and Julie Ingwersen write for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Mark Weinraub and Karl Plume in Chicago, Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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