Soybean Futures Climb on Exports

By Benjamin Parkin Features Dow Jones Newswires

Soybean futures rose on strong export demand, particularly from China.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday that private exporters sold 132,000 metric tons of soybeans to Chinese buyers for delivery in 2017-18.

That came after the agency reported bumper oilseed exports of over 2 million tons for 2017-18, with much of that business going to China. That was somewhat tempered by a reduction of 400,300 tons for 2016-17, though analysts said that would likely get rolled ahead to the new crop year.

The new-crop sales were "outstanding," said Brian Hoops, president of brokerage Midwest Market Solutions in Springfield, Mo.

The prospect of robust demand for U.S. soybeans over the coming months from China, one of the world's most important consumers of the oilseed, has the potential to be a major boon to prices, analysts said.

That helped overshadow concerns among traders about growing supplies. Earlier this month the USDA forecast a record U.S. soybean crop, though estimated oilseed pod counts from crop scouts at this week's Farm Journal Midwestern tour have generally been at the low end of expectations.

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Soybean futures for September delivery rose 0.7% to $9.41 1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade on Thursday.

Grain futures were mixed, initially falling before closing mostly higher. Export sales for grain were underwhelming, analysts said, with combined sales of 386,400 tons of wheat and 525,700 tons of corn for 2016-17 and 2017-18. Both were at the low end of estimates made before the report.

Supply concerns are gripping traders in those markets. Expectations that Russian wheat production will be enormous have exacerbated a multiweek slump that has pushed wheat prices down over 25% since early July.

Some analysts say, however, that U.S. wheat prices are now sufficiently discounted to start competing for more global export business.

Farm Journal crop scouts, meanwhile, are forecasting higher corn yields than many were expecting. That has pressured prices this week, though some analysts said on Thursday that the corn market was oversold.

CBOT September corn futures closed unchanged at $3.42 a bushel while September wheat contracts rose 1.4% to $4.09 a bushel.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

August 24, 2017 15:39 ET (19:39 GMT)