Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures firmed on Monday on spillover strength from a rally in China as well as signs of good export demand, traders said.
Corn retreated on technical selling, traders said, while profit-taking weighed on wheat following a 2.4 per cent rally last week.
Traders in China returned from the Lunar New Year, and the soybean market there rose after being closed for a week.
“You had a pretty strong showing in China when they returned from their holiday,” said Northstar Commodity Investment Co chief analyst Mark Schultz. “That spurred a little buying.”
Chicago Board of Trade March soybean futures settled up nine cents at $10.36 a bushel (all figures US$).
The U.S. Agriculture Department on Monday morning reported weekly soybean export inspections of 1.636 million tonnes, topping market forecasts that ranged from 900,000 to 1.2 million. It also revised its week-ago soy export inspections total to 1.637 million tonnes from 1.631 million.
“The soybean complex is still finding support with international demand, especially coming from Asia,” consultancy Agritel said in a note.
But expectations of robust soybean crops in Brazil and Argentina kept gains in check.
“South American weather forecasts remain largely non-threatening,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Wheat prices were also curbed by easing concerns about potential winter damage in the northern hemisphere, including in the Black Sea exporting region.
CBOT soft red winter wheat for March delivery dropped 7-3/4 cents to $4.22-1/2 a bushel, closing just above its session low.
Rising competition on the export market added pressure to wheat.
Brazil, traditionally one of the world’s largest wheat importers, has exported several shipments of the grain recently as a large domestic crop and a government subsidy make the exports competitive abroad, according to data from ports.
CBOT March corn futures were 1-1/2 cents lower at $3.63-3/4 a bushel.
Corn rose early in the session but turned lower after failing to hold support above its 200-day moving average. Expectations of renewed fund buying limited the declines.
The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission’s weekly commitments report released on Friday afternoon showed non-commercial traders reverted to a net short position in CBOT corn in the week to Jan. 31.
— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters correspondent covering grain markets from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris.