U.S. grains: Soy, corn futures close firm

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures closed slightly firm on Thursday, supported by hopes that stepped-up exports to Europe would make up for business lost in a trade fight with China, traders said.

Corn futures also settled in positive territory while wheat was mostly lower, weighed down by technical selling.

Soybeans, corn and wheat all closed below session highs as investors waited for more bullish news to push prices higher.

“We have gapped higher,” said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading. “Things had maybe gone too far too fast. This is a little bit of back and fill.”

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Chicago Board of Trade November soybean futures settled up 1/4 cent $8.76 a bushel (all figures US$). The most-active contract, which notched its third straight day of gains, peaked at its highest since July 9 early in the session. Soybeans have risen for eight of the last nine days.

U.S. President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Europe has agreed to import more American soybeans, aiding U.S. farmers as the two sides launch talks on cutting other trade barriers, easing the threat of a transatlantic trade war.

“Europe is likely to buy more U.S. soybeans and it will offset some demand destruction that we have seen in China because of higher tariffs,” said one India-based agricultural commodities analyst.

But many observers in Europe considered the moves as symbolic as the European Union does not impose tariffs on soybean imports, limiting the impact on the futures market.

The U.S. Agriculture Department on Thursday morning said weekly export sales of soybeans totaled 1.502 million tonnes, topping trade forecasts that ranged from 400,000 to 900,000 tonnes.

CBOT September corn futures were up 2-1/4 cents at $3.61-1/2 a bushel.

CBOT September soft red winter wheat was 6-1/4 cents lower at $5.36-1/2 a bushel. MGEX spring wheat edged up 1/2 cent at $5.87-3/4 a bushel. The front-month MGEX contract hit its highest since June 1, with disappointing results from a crop tour in the northern U.S. Plains providing support.

Results from the second day of the Wheat Quality Council’s tour of key U.S. spring wheat production areas projected crop yields at 41.1 bushels per acre, below the tour’s five-year average of 45.4 bushels per acre.

The tour’s findings contrasted with the latest forecast from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which projected North Dakota’s spring wheat yield at a record-tying 48 bushels per acre.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting for Reuters by Valerie Parent and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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