U.S. grains: Soy, wheat, corn firm on export demand

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures firmed on Thursday on supportive export demand and light bargain buying following a three-day slide, along with renewed optimism about demand for soy-based biodiesel fuel, analysts said.

Wheat and corn rose on light technical buying and bullish weekly export sales data.

Chicago Board of Trade November soybean futures settled up 2-1/4 cents at $9.86-1/2 per bushel (all figures US$). CBOT December wheat ended up 2-3/4 cents at $4.32-3/4 a bushel and December corn finished up 1/2 cent at $3.49 a bushel.

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Soybeans drew support after the U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed through its daily reporting system that private exporters sold 384,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China, the world’s biggest soy buyer.

Weekly U.S. soybean export sales, at 1.275 million tonnes, fell below trade estimates. But weekly soymeal and soyoil sales exceeded expectations.

“Ongoing Chinese interest for U.S. soybeans and better-than-expected weekly U.S. wheat, corn, soybean meal and soybean oil export sales fuelled today’s strength,” Dan Cekander, president of DC Analysis, wrote in a note to clients.

The benchmark December soyoil contract rose 0.42 cent, or 1.3 per cent, to 33.83 cents per pound. It was spurred by news reports that U.S. President Donald Trump told the governor of Iowa on Wednesday that he was committed to renewable fuels.

Soyoil is the main feedstock for biodiesel fuel.

“President Trump’s statement indicating the mandates on biofuels will not be lowered fuelled today’s recovery in soybean oil futures,” Cekander wrote.

A group of 22 members of the U.S. House of Representatives asked the Environmental Protection Agency in a letter on Thursday not to lower some requirements for mixing biofuels into the country’s fuel supply.

CBOT wheat firmed on strong U.S. export sales of more than 615,000 tonnes, the biggest weekly tally in two months. Also, commodity funds hold a sizable net short position in CBOT wheat, leaving the market vulnerable to bouts of short-covering.

Corn closed marginally higher, paring gains in the final minutes of trade. The ongoing harvest of a large U.S. crop amid mostly dry weather in the Midwest this week hung over the market, capping rallies.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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