U.S. grains: Soybeans to 6-1/2-year top on expectations of tightening stocks

Corn futures up, wheat retreats

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures resumed their rally on Friday after a light setback a day earlier, climbing to 6-1/2-year highs on signs of fresh export demand and expectations that key U.S. crop reports next week will indicate tightening global supplies.

Corn futures also rose, hovering near multi-year highs set this week above $5 a bushel. But wheat futures closed lower, retreating from a six-year top set on Tuesday (all figures US$).

Chicago Board of Trade March soybeans settled up 19-1/2 cents at $13.74-3/4 per bushel after reaching $13.86, the highest price on a continuous chart of the most-active contract since June 2014.

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CBOT March corn ended up 2-1/4 cents at $4.96-1/4 a bushel. March wheat fell 3-1/2 cents to settle at $6.38-3/4 a bushel.

Soybeans rose on expectations for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in monthly supply/demand reports due Jan. 12 to tighten its forecasts of U.S. soy and corn ending stocks — the amount left at the end of the 2020-21 marketing year on Aug. 31, 2021, and carried over into the next marketing year.

Some analysts expect USDA next week to trim its estimates of the 2020 U.S. corn and soybean harvests as well.

“The market is fully anticipating lower ending stocks for the beans,” said Jack Scoville, analyst with the Price Futures Group in Chicago.

“The last time we had ending stocks levels this tight or tighter, beans were $15 (a bushel). That is in the back of everybody’s mind,” Scoville added.

Soybeans drew additional support from news that USDA confirmed private sales of 204,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China. It was the first sale to China announced through USDA’s daily reporting system since Nov. 6.

Traders continue to monitor South American crop weather, watching to see if significant rainfall reaches dry parts of Argentina and southern Brazil in the coming days, averting further loss of corn and soybean yield potential.

Argentina’s government said Thursday it would review a decision to temporarily suspend corn exports, a restriction that fanned the recent price rally.

The CBOT wheat market had a weak tone amid a lack of fresh news, with futures retreating from six-year highs set this week.

Traders were waiting for activity in Russia to resume following holidays this week to gauge the impact of measures to curb the country’s exports.

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

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