U.S. grains: Soy, corn firm on broad commodity strength, soy sales

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures firmed on Wednesday, supported by strength in commodities and resurgent soy export demand, traders said.

Wheat and corn followed the higher trend, with both grains rebounding after a two-session slide as the U.S. corn harvest got under way.

Chicago Board of Trade November soybeans settled up 4-1/2 cents at $9.70 per bushel. December corn ended up 1-3/4 cents at $3.50 a bushel and December wheat rose 6-3/4 cents at $4.49-3/4 a bushel (all figures US$).

Soybeans jumped to a session high after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said private exporters sold 1.2 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans, including 1.08 million tonnes to unknown destinations.

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USDA said the soybean sale was among the 10 largest ever announced through its daily reporting system, which dates to 1977. Analysts suspected that at least a portion of the sales to unknown destinations were earmarked for China, which is by far the world’s largest soy importer.

“It’s harvest time. This is the time where China has to be active in buying soybeans. They are under-covered for October and November,” said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities.

U.S. soybean export commitments so far in the 2017-18 marketing year that began Sept. 1 are lagging the year-ago pace, and USDA has forecast record-large U.S. soybean imports for the year.

“First we have got to get caught up with last year, before we talk about going to a new record. So these are the type of numbers we need,” Bill Nelson, an analyst with Doane Advisory Services, said of the sales announcement.

CBOT grains and soy drew light support from strength in other commodities, including U.S. crude oil futures, which rose nearly $1 a barrel, or two per cent. The 19-market Thomson Reuters CoreCommodity Index was up 1.1 per cent after reaching its highest since May.

CBOT wheat rose about 1.5 per cent on technical buying and short-covering, with most-active December reaching a one-month high of $4.52 in the final minutes of trade.

Corn rose, but the CBOT December contract stayed inside of Tuesday’s trading range. Traders were eyeing support at the contract low of $3.44-1/4 a bushel, set on Aug. 31, as they awaited yield reports from the U.S. corn harvest in the Midwest.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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