U.S. grains: Soybeans rally on Brazil dryness, short-covering

(Keith Weller photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures climbed to a near two-week high on Friday on technical buying and short-covering as well as concerns that dry weather in parts of Brazil may drag down yields in the world’s top exporter of the oilseed.

Wheat and corn pared steep early gains and closed modestly higher. Both traded sharply higher during the session on technical buying and short covering ahead of year-end holidays.

Underlying support in grain and soybean markets stemmed from lighter-than-anticipated crop sales by Argentine farmers after the country’s new government floated the currency, which sent the peso sharply lower.

Chicago Board of Trade January soybeans gained 15-1/4 cents, or 1.7 per cent, to $8.92-1/4 a bushel, closing above the contract’s 100-day moving average after earlier climbing above its 50-day moving average (all figures US$). After shedding nearly four per cent last week, the contract gained 2.5 per cent this week, its fourth weekly gain in five weeks.

CBOT March corn traded up more than one per cent during Friday’s session but failed to break through chart resistance at its 50-day moving average and ended 1/4 cent higher at $3.74-1/2 a bushel, about unchanged in the week.

CBOT March wheat settled up 2-3/4 cents, or 0.6 per cent, at $4.86-3/4 a bushel after earlier trading as high as $4.99. Selling accelerated as the contract was unable climb above $5 a bushel, dragging wheat to a 0.8 per cent weekly decline, its first in three weeks.

Soybean prices were boosted by concerns that dry weather in Brazil may clip soy production. The crop in northern Brazil is entering a key development stage when dry conditions may negatively impact yields.

“The dryness in Brazil is taking center stage today, recent dryness in Mato Grosso and Goias and forecasts for the dryness to continue over the next 10 days,” said Rich Nelson, chief strategist with Allendale Inc.

Persistent demand for U.S. soybean exports also underpinned the market, although traders will continue to monitor crop movement in Argentina in the coming weeks as farmers are expected to liquidate stored grain and soybeans after the country’s peso devaluation.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday announced private sales of 220,046 tonnes of soybeans to unknown destinations, bringing the week’s total daily soybean sales
confirmations to 764,046 tonnes.

Karl Plume reports on agriculture and grain markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore, Nigel Hunt in London and Julie Ingwersen in Chicago.

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