U.S. grains: Soybeans top one-week high, corn retreats from gains

Chicago | Reuters — Concerns about tight U.S. soy supplies drove soybean futures to their highest level in more than a week on Monday, while corn futures retreated for the first time in four sessions.

Wheat rose on technical and fund-driven buying.

Soybeans advanced on strong demand for soymeal and expectations that the U.S. Department of Agriculture will tighten its outlook for U.S. soy inventories in a monthly crop report on Wednesday, traders said.

Soybean stocks are projected to drop five per cent from November to 427 million bushels, while corn and wheat stocks are expected to rise, according to a Reuters survey of analysts.

Corn prices pulled back as traders took profit ahead of the crop report and following recent gains, said Jim Gerlach, president of brokerage A/C Trading. “You have people stepping out of the market on the rally.”

The recent rally in corn triggered farmer selling around the U.S. Midwest, bolstering physical supplies for processors and merchants, traders said.

Chicago Board of Trade March corn fell 1.2 per cent to $3.90-1/4 a bushel, having closed up 1.3 per cent on Friday (all figures US$).

CBOT January soybean futures closed up 0.8 per cent at $10.43-3/4 a bushel after hitting a session high of $10.50-1/2, the highest price since Nov. 28. On Friday, the contract rose 2.5 per cent after setting a one-week high of $10.40-3/4.

Export demand remains strong for U.S. soy, particularly from top importer China, traders said.

On Dec. 16, representatives of six Chinese soybean buyers will sign agreements with U.S. exporters to buy an unspecified amount of soybeans at a ceremony in Chicago, U.S. trade groups said on Monday.

Also, private exporters struck separate deals to sell 130,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to Spain and 136,000 tonnes of U.S. corn to Japan for delivery in the 2014/15 marketing year, which began on Sept. 1, the USDA said.

“The export shipments, particularly to China, have been amazing, but that demand tends to peak out at this time of year as the demand shifts to South America,” said Tomm Pfitzenmaier, analyst for Summit Commodity Brokerage.

CBOT March wheat futures rose 0.7 per cent to $5.98 a bushel.

— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and ag commodity markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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