Bigger U.S. soybean crop eases tight world supply

The U.S. soybean crop is much bigger than expected, helping to ease a worldwide supply squeeze, thanks to late-season rains that offset the impact of the worst drought in half a century, the government said Nov. 9.

In an report on crops around the world, the U.S. Agriculture Department raised its forecasts of global soybean, corn and wheat stocks from a month ago. The world corn crop is the second largest on record despite huge damage in the United States, the No. 1 producer.

And notwithstanding the severe drought, U.S. soybean production has pulled to within four per cent of a year ago. World food prices are near the levels seen in 2008, when food riots broke out in some nations, but they dipped in the past month, says a U.N. food agency.

Fear of a full-blown food crisis has waned as harvests in the Northern Hemisphere proved adequate despite bad weather in the United States and eastern Europe.

Besides raising its estimate of the U.S. soybean crop by a sharp four per cent from a month ago, USDA increased its corn crop estimate marginally, against expectations, and boosted its forecast for U.S. corn, soybean and wheat stockpiles at the end of this marketing year. Each of the forecasts was higher than traders expected.

USDA pegged the soybean crop at 2.971 billion bushels, three per cent larger than traders expected. Estimated at 10.725 billion bushels, the U.S. corn crop was up fractionally from October at a time traders were positioned for a smaller crop.

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