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China-U. S. Soybean Deal Largest Ever

China wrapped up its biggest ever one-off U.S. soybean purchase on Jan. 21 in a $6.7-billion deal equivalent to nearly half of last year’s total trade, surprising dealers who had expected a more symbolic volume.

With a second tranche of deals to buy 8.45 million tonnes, Chinese firms travelling as part of President Hu Jintao’s state visit signed up to purchase 11.5 million tonnes of soybeans for delivery over the next year or so, enough to sate China’s total import needs for two or three months. While such deals are a de rigeur part of almost any high-level political trip, traders were surprised by the scale of the agreement.

“It’s a phenomenal amount of soybeans. If China wanted to make a big splash here then they sure did,” said Jack Scoville, analyst with The Price Futures Group.

Cattle placements above trade estimates

USDA put December cattle-on-feed placements at 116 per cent of a year ago, or 1.795 million head, while analysts, on average, expected 112.1 per cent, according to a Reuters survey. Also, the 116 per cent was near the top end of all estimates that ranged from 102.8 to 117 per cent.

USDA put the Jan. 1 feedlot cattle supply at 11.517 million head, or 105 per cent of a year ago, and December marketings at 1.827 million, or 105 per cent. Analysts, on average, expected 104 per cent for the Jan. 1 supply and 104.7 per cent for the marketings.

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