Soybean Futures Climb on Export Strength

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Soybean futures rose on higher-than-expected export sales and renewed concerns about a rain shortage.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that the U.S. sold 1.35 million metric tons of soybeans for the 2016-17 and 2017-18 crop years. That was above the high end of pre-report estimates. The USDA also reported on Thursday morning optional origin sales of 165,000 tons of soybeans to China for 2017-18, meaning the oilseed could come from a source other than the U.S.

The prospect that China would continue buying soybeans from the U.S. and South America over the next two months helped support prices, said Terry Reilly, a senior commodity analyst at Futures International in Chicago. Sales of soybeans from the new crop season are still low for this time of year, he said.

Soybean prices started their rise overnight after less rain than expected fell in parts of states like Iowa and Illinois. Despite wetter forecasts in recent days, analysts said any dry patches could leave some portions of the soybean crop in a precarious position.

"August rainfall will not reach normal levels, and unfortunately will follow in the dry trends of June/July," said research firm AgResource in a note to clients, adding that more rain is needed to prevent soybean pod abortion. "Crop stress is worsening."

Soybean futures for September rose 0.9% to $9.30 1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade.

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Grain prices were under pressure on Thursday. Ongoing worries about large grain stocks and technical weakness pushed prices lower.

Solid export sales weren't enough to offset those pressures. Weekly wheat export sales reported by the USDA were above the range of expectations, while corn sales fell within estimates.

CBOT September corn futures fell 0.6% to $3.50 1/2 a bushel, trading at a low for the year, while September wheat contracts dropped 1.3% to $4.14 a bushel, the lowest close since late April.

Write to Benjamin Parkin at benjamin.parkin@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 17, 2017 15:15 ET (19:15 GMT)