U.S. grains: Soybeans pause after two-day rise

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures eased on Thursday as traders booked profits after prices hit a near two-week high in the previous session, ahead of trade talks between Washington and Beijing at the G20 meeting.

Wheat futures declined on lacklustre U.S. export sales while corn ended nearly unchanged.

Chicago Board of Trade January soybean futures settled down 3-1/4 cents at $8.87-1/4 per bushel, staying inside the previous day’s trading range (all figures US$).

CBOT March soft red winter wheat ended down 3-3/4 cents at $5.07-3/4 a bushel and March corn ended steady at $3.73-1/4.

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Soybeans drifted lower, consolidating ahead of a Saturday meeting at which U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping are expected to discuss trade at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. Trump sent mixed signals about the prospects for a trade deal with China, saying an agreement was close but he was not sure he wanted one.

China, for its part, is hoping for “positive results” in resolving its trade dispute with the U.S., the commerce ministry said on Thursday.

Farmer sales of U.S. corn and soybeans have been slow this week as growers and traders await any sign of a thaw in U.S. trade relations with China, by far the world’s biggest soybean buyer.

“We are setting ourselves up for a situation where, if there is at least a ceasefire, it should be somewhat supportive for the market,” said Jim Gerlach, president of Indiana-based A/C Trading.

Open interest in CBOT soybean, corn and wheat futures declined on Wednesday as traders exited positions, underscoring uncertainty ahead of both the G20 summit and first notice day for deliveries against December grain futures contracts, which is Friday.

“You are seeing people ahead of first notice day saying, ‘Get me out; I’m going to sit on the sidelines.’ Most of what you are seeing is just people positioning,” Gerlach said.

CBOT wheat fell after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported weekly wheat export sales of 377,100 tonnes, in line with trade expectations.

Sales of soft red winter wheat, the type traded on the CBOT, totalled just over 8,000 tonnes, the lowest since August.

Weekly U.S. corn export sales of 1.266 million tonnes topped expectations. But weakness in soybean futures and sagging prices for corn-based ethanol hung over the market.

“Ethanol prices in the USA are at their lowest since 2005, which limits the upside potential of corn for the time being,” French consultancy Agritel said.

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

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