U.S. grains: Soybeans, wheat rise as export prospects shine

Soybeans rose on Friday on strong export demand and higher soymeal prices, and Chicago wheat gained on concerns about Argentina’s wheat crop.

Corn slipped as U.S. markets reopened for a shortened session after the Thanksgiving holiday.

Demand for soybeans from overseas markets, especially from top importer China, has lifted the oilseed this week.

“Regardless of South American (soybean) supplies building, the right-here, right-now story is we need to cap our exports heading out our door as we get to the end of the year,” said Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics.

On Friday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported weekly export sales of U.S. soybeans at 1.77 million tonnes, combining old and new crop years, which were above trade expectations.

The USDA also said private exporters reported sales of 110,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China for 2014-15 delivery.

January soybeans rose 1.3 per cent, or 16-1/2 cents, to $13.36-1/2 a bushel, taking additional support from soymeal futures, which have gained on tight supplies, and spread trades with corn (all figures US$).

December soymeal gained 2.4 per cent, setting a contract high.

On a nearby contract basis, soybeans finished with gains of 4.4 per cent for the month and 1.3 per cent for the week.

Export prospects for U.S. wheat were also in focus, with crop problems emerging in rival exporting countries.

Argentina’s agriculture minister on Thursday projected the country’s 2013-14 wheat crop at 8.5 million tonnes, well below USDA’s current forecast of 11 million tonnes.

“It could signal that Argentina could actually import some wheat by the end of the season,” said Terry Reilly, senior commodity analyst at Futures International.

Bitter cold conditions, expected to move through the U.S. Plains next week, meanwhile pose a threat to the young winter wheat crop if the region does not see snow before then, World Weather Inc meteorologist Drew Lerner said.

Chicago Board Of Trade front-month December wheat rose 3-3/4 cents to $6.55 a bushel.

The front month’s gains were limited by larger than expected CBOT deliveries.

Wheat was 1.9 per cent lower for the month, but notched up a 0.8 per cent weekly gain.

December corn eased 0.5 per cent, or two cents, to $4.15-1/4 per bushel, as investors sold the golden grain while buying soybeans, traders said.

Corn was also under pressure after China’s Xinhua News Agency reported that China returned a batch of U.S. corn that showed a genetically modified trait not allowed by its ministry of agriculture, said Roy Huckabay with the Linn Group, a Chicago brokerage.

Corn lost three per cent in November, its fifth straight monthly loss, and shed 1.7 per cent for the week.

— Rod Nickel is a Reuters correspondent based in Winnipeg. Additional reporting for Reuters by Tom Polansek in Chicago.

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