U.S. grains: Soybeans hold near four-year high

Focus shifts to Tuesday's USDA report to gauge tightening supply

CBOT January 2021 soybeans (candlesticks) with ICE January 2021 canola (yellow line). (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago soybean futures held near a four-year high on Friday as Brazilian dryness and strong demand from leading importer China kept the market focused on the prospect of tightening supplies.

Corn and wheat dipped but were underpinned by weather risks and Chinese-fueled international demand.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade ended down 2-1/4 cents at $11.01-1/2 a bushel, ending above $11 for the second consecutive day (all figures US$). For the week, CBOT soybeans added 45-1/4 cents, the biggest weekly jump since the week ending Sept. 18.

CBOT corn fell 2-1/2 cents to $4.06-3/4 a bushel, while wheat dropped 7-1/4 cents to $6.02.

Traders looked to Tuesday’s monthly supply and demand outlook from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for adjustments to Chinese exports and global harvest prospects.

“Carryout’s starting to get kind of tight,” said Ed Duggan, risk management specialist at Top Third Ag Marketing. “Right now, (the U.S. is) the only game in town.”

In a daily announcement, USDA reported sales of 272,150 tonnes of soybeans to unknown destinations and 132,000 tonnes of soybeans to China on Friday, the first Chinese purchase since Oct. 15.

The agency also reported 206,900 tonnes of corn to unknown destinations.

USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service post in Beijing estimated China’s corn imports in the 2020-21 marketing year at 22 million tonnes, well above the USDA’s official forecast of seven million tonnes.

Some traders wondered if sales to China will begin to taper.

“Even though we saw additional USDA export sales, there are some thoughts that China might be closing that gap for needs out of the U.S.,” said Terry Reilly, senior agriculture futures analyst at Futures International.

Brazil and Argentina have received rainfall since last month, but market participants remain wary of persisting dryness that could limit South America’s capacity to meet Chinese demand that has already eroded the U.S. soybean and corn surplus.

— Reporting for Reuters by Christopher Walljasper in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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