U.S. grains: Soybeans fall as U.S.-China trade war fears intensify

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Chicago | Reuters – U.S. soybean futures fell on Wednesday as worries that U.S. President Donald Trump could propose additional tariffs on Chinese goods knocked prices down from a six-week high touched a session earlier.

Wheat futures reached a one-year high on worries about drought reducing harvests in nations that are major exporters.

The losses in soy came after a source familiar with the matter said on Tuesday the Trump administration plans to propose a 25 percent tariff on $200 billion in Chinese imports, instead of a 10 percent tariff.

That move could escalate tensions with China, the world’s top soybean buyer, which last month imposed a duty on imports of U.S. soy as part of a trade war between the biggest two economies.

“It’s ratcheting things up,” said Jim Gerlach, president of agricultural broker A/C Trading in Indiana.

The most active soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade were down 13 cents at $9.06 a bushel by 12:15 p.m. CDT (1715 GMT).

The decline was a turnaround from Tuesday, when prices rallied on hopes that Washington and Beijing would restart stalled talks. China has slowed purchases of U.S. soy this year due to the trade dispute, after buying $12 billion worth last year.

“Oilseed prices continue to be one of the best barometers of the U.S.-China trade dispute,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

On Thursday, traders will digest weekly U.S. data on crop exports.

Wheat rose for a third consecutive session amid expectations global demand will shift to the United States because of droughts that are reducing supplies in other countries. Forecasters have cut wheat harvest expectations for Russia, the European Union and Australia due to bad weather.

In Germany, the European Union’s No. 2 grain producer, the 2018 grains harvest will slump about 20 percent on the year to around 36 million tonnes, after crops suffered massive damage from drought and a heat wave, according to German farmers association DBV.

“The European drought continues and the weather forecasts are indicating that the situation there will worsen into the middle of August,” said Tomm Pfitzenmaier, analyst for Summit Commodity Brokerage in Iowa.

The most active wheat futures were up 7 cents at $5.60-3/4 a bushel. The most active corn futures were down 2-3/4 cents at $3.83-3/4 a bushel.

– Additional reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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