U.S. grains: Corn jumps four per cent

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. corn futures surged more than four per cent on Friday while wheat and soybeans also firmed, buoyed by expectations for a partial U.S.-China trade deal and worries about wintry weather threatening crops in the Midwest, analysts said.

Chicago Board of Trade December corn settled up 17-1/2 cents at $3.97-3/4 a bushel after reaching $3.98-3/4, its highest since Aug. 12 (all figures US$).

CBOT December wheat ended up 15 cents at $5.08 a bushel after hitting $5.12-3/4, its highest since July 25.

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November soybeans finished up 12-1/2 cents at $9.36 a bushel after touching $9.39-1/4, the highest on a chart of the most-active soybean contract since China imposed retaliatory tariffs on U.S. soybeans in July 2018.

Commodity and equity markets rose as high-level U.S. trade talks with China entered a second day. U.S. President Donald Trump sounded an optimistic note and Beijing indicated it was open to a “partial” deal that would avoid a planned hike in tariffs on its goods this month.

“It’s all about China,” Dan Basse, president of Chicago-based AgResource Co, said of the strength in grains. “They are all pumped up about a mini-deal that will ease tensions.”

Officials, including U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, resumed talks in Washington early on Friday. Liu was scheduled to meet Trump at the White House at 2:45 p.m. ET according to the White House public schedule.

“Good things are happening at China Trade Talk Meeting. Warmer feelings than in recent past, more like the Old Days. I will be meeting with the Vice Premier today. All would like to see something significant happen!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

Soybeans, the largest U.S. crop export to China, have been supported by purchases of U.S. soybeans by China in the run-up to the latest round of trade talks, including a 398,000-tonne sale reported by the USDA on Thursday.

Meanwhile, grain traders continued to monitor a winter storm bringing blizzard conditions to parts of the Dakotas. Freezing temperatures were expected to reach into Minnesota and Iowa this weekend.

“This week’s cold outbreak is more intense than expected and expected to claim a larger portion of this year’s immature corn and soybean crops than previously believed,” INTL FCStone chief commodities economist Arlan Suderman wrote in a client note.

The weather and hopes for a trade deal helped shift the market’s focus away from a monthly U.S. Department of Agriculture report released Thursday in which the government projected larger-than-expected stockpiles of corn and wheat.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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