U.S. grains: Soybeans, corn close strong on bargain buying

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures ended strong on Friday, rallying on month-end buying a day after cancellations of U.S. soybean sales to China sent the market to a three-week low, traders said.

Corn and wheat also settled higher.

CBOT March soybeans finished up 14-1/2 cents at $8.82-1/4 a bushel, rebounding after dipping to $8.67, its lowest since Jan. 12 (all figures US$).

March corn ended 6-1/2 cents up at $3.72 per bushel and March wheat closed seven cents higher at $4.79-1/4 a bushel.

Soybeans settled near session highs with the March contract ending above its 100-day moving average near $8.81, a bullish chart signal.

Traders said the strength in soybeans was technical in nature, with expectations of big crops in South America limiting rallies.

“When we dip into some support areas, we’ll see that buying from time to time, but I don’t really look for this buying interest to be maintained or sustained unless weather in South America is very dry in the long term,” said Brian Hoops, analyst at Midwest Market Solutions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported weekly export sales of U.S. soybeans in the latest week at 647,800 tonnes, in line with trade expectations for 500,000 to 800,000 tonnes.

However, USDA on Thursday said exporters canceled sales of 395,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans sold to China, a factor that traders were still digesting.

“Cancellations are not unusual, of course, but they are a sharp reminder that soybeans are a buyers’ market right now,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Corn closed higher and finished January up 13-1/4 cents per bushel or 3.7 per cent, due in part to commodity funds covering short positions.

After Friday’s CBOT close, weekly data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission showed that non-commercial traders slashed their net short position in CBOT corn by more than 74,000 contracts in the week to Jan. 26, to 129,051 contracts.

Corn rallied despite lacklustre weekly export sales and a jump in the U.S. dollar, which in theory makes U.S. grains less competitive on the world market.

USDA reported weekly export sales of old-crop U.S. corn at 817,000 tonnes, at the low end of trade estimates for 800,000 to one million tonnes.

“We expected much better sales than what we saw,” Hoops said.

CBOT wheat closed higher, with the March contract settling above its 50-day moving average.

Russia, a leading wheat exporter, is not expected to change its current regime of taxes on grain exports, sources said, following proposals to change them.

Justin Madden reports on crop commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago, Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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