Grain, Soybean Futures Steady; Oilseed Processing Hits Record

By Benjamin ParkinFeaturesDow Jones Newswires

Grain and soybean futures traded sideways in a mixed session on Friday.

Contracts for soybeans closed slightly lower, despite signs of added demand. The National Oilseed Processors Association said that its members crushed a record 163.5 million bushels of oilseed in November, according to traders. That was below October's 164.2 million bushel crush but above prereport estimates, and a record for the month.

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Better-than-expected crushing demand for oilseed has given some support to soybean prices at a time when exports are underwhelming. The U.S. Department of Agriculture earlier this week trimmed its soybean export forecast for 2017-18, and analysts say that figure could fall further yet as U.S. merchants struggle with increased competition from rival producers like Brazil.

Soybean oil stocks in November rose to 1.33 billion pounds from the previous month, according to NOPA, above expectations though below the same time last year. Analysts said that was mildly negative for prices.

Soybean futures for January delivery closed 0.1% lower at $9.67 1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, the lowest close since mid-November.

CBOT March-dated corn futures fell 0.3% to $3.47 1/2 a bushel while March wheat contracts closed unchanged at $4.18 1/4 a bushel.

Traders shrugged off a string of daily export sales reported by the USDA. The agency said that private exporters sold 257,000 metric tons of soybeans to China for 2017-18, and a further 126,000 tons to what it called unknown destinations.

They also sold 134,503 tons of corn to Costa Rica and 130,000 tons of soft red winter wheat to unknown destinations. That was the largest sale for that variety of wheat in months.

But, with exports otherwise disappointing this year, analysts said that may not be enough to stave off oversupply.

Private forecaster Informa Economics projected that U.S. farmers would sow 31.1 million acres of wheat in 2018, traders said, down 1.6 million acres from a year earlier. Large stocks, low prices and shrinking export market share has made wheat an increasingly unattractive option for many farmers.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 15, 2017 15:54 ET (20:54 GMT)