U.S. grains: Soybeans slide on easing concerns about Brazil truck strike

Chicago | Reuters — Chicago Board of Trade soybeans retreated on Wednesday from a six-week high earlier this week, on prospects for an imminent end to the Brazilian truck drivers’ strike which had threatened exports just as the country’s massive soybean crop was entering world markets.

CBOT wheat also fell as U.S. wheat remains too pricey in world markets and continues to miss out on big tenders. The exception was Egypt buying 290,000 tonnes of U.S. wheat on Tuesday, but the purchase was financed with U.S. credit.

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Corn was also weak, with volatile currency markets keeping traders on their toes. The U.S. dollar softened a bit but remained near an 11-year high, making American grain less price-competitive. In Ukraine, a leading grain exporter, the central bank halted commercial currency trading until week’s end after its currency collapsed.

The Brazilian agriculture minister said after a meeting with truckers on Wednesday afternoon the government was not easing its higher fuel tax — the issue that sparked the week-long strike — but noted truckers showed flexibility and said she was confident a solution would be reached soon.

The government had begun fining protesters and several states allowed the federal police to clear the roads, traders said.

“The sell-off was triggered by some lessening concerns about the situation in Brazil,” said Anne Frick, a senior oilseeds analyst with Jefferies-Bache. “The idea this issue might be going into the Brazilian courts has people a little more confident that truckers may back off their protests.”

U.S. traders also noted the Brazilian soymeal basis weakened on Wednesday, an indication processors were getting enough soybeans to crush despite the strike.

CBOT March soybeans ended down 8-1/4 cents, 0.8 per cent, at $10.07-3/4 a bushel, after soaring to a six-week high of $10.29 on Tuesday (all figures US$).

Chicago March wheat closed eight cents lower, or down 1.6 per cent, at $4.97-3/4 — breaking below $5 for the first time in three weeks. March corn closed down 1-3/4 cents, or 0.5 per cent lower, at $3.75-3/4 a bushel.

“The wheat market got excited about Egypt’s GASC activity this week but the reality is GASC had a coupon,” said Joe Lardy, a grains analyst with CHS Hedging. “As we continue to calculate world wheat values – the U.S. is still out of the market.”

— Christine Stebbins is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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