Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures weakened and soybeans touched a five-week low on Tuesday as traders awaited confirmation that China has started to buy more U.S. crops after the countries signed an initial trade deal last week.
Most actively traded wheat futures hit their highest price since August 2018 at the Chicago Board of Trade.
Traders and farmers are keeping a close eye on Chinese demand because the agreement included a pledge to purchase at least an additional $12.5 billion worth of U.S. agricultural goods in 2020 and at least $19.5 billion over the 2017 level of $24 billion in 2021 (all figures US$). The deal is meant to reduce tensions after nearly two years of a tit-for-tat tariff war between the world’s two largest economies.
Chatter about possible Chinese buying of U.S. corn helped lift corn futures on Friday, but there has been no official confirmation of deals, traders said.
“We just overdid it on Friday,” said Brian Hoops, president of U.S-based broker Midwest Market Solutions.
Chicago Board of Trade most active corn ended down 0.4 per cent at $3.87-1/2 a bushel, after rising 3.7 per cent on Friday; U.S. grain markets were closed Monday for Martin Luther King Jr. Day.
Soybeans fell 1.5 per cent to $9.16 a bushel. Projections for a massive soy harvest in rival exporter Brazil added pressure to CBOT soybean futures.
“Without any bullish fodder, the soybean market is looking forward to that big South American crop coming on,” Hoops said.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said 1.2 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans were inspected for export last week, at the top end of analysts’ expectations for 600,000 to 1.2 million tonnes.
Weekly U.S. export inspections were 345,859 tonnes for corn, below analysts’ expectations for 450,000 to 800,000 tonnes, and 435,129 tonnes for wheat, toward the low end of estimates for 400,000 to 600,000 tonnes.
Rising wheat prices in rival exporting countries and signs of strong demand helped lift CBOT wheat futures, analysts said. There are also concerns about tighter U.S. supplies of soft red winter wheat, they said.
“Wheat is seeing support from strong prices in rival exporters in the Black Sea including Russia and in France,” said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager with INTL FCStone.
CBOT wheat jumped 2.1 per cent to $5.81-1/2 a bushel.
In Paris, European wheat futures rose to their highest in about 1-1/2 years, supported by rising U.S. markets and public transportation problems in France caused by strikes, traders said.
— Reporting for Reuters by Tom Polansek in Chicago; additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.