U.S. grains: Soybeans firm on hopes for more sales to China

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Reuters — U.S. soybean futures firmed on Monday after two sessions of declines as traders anticipated more purchases by China after the world’s top soy importer last week booked its first U.S. shipments in six months.

Wheat futures climbed, supported by a weaker U.S. dollar and rising wheat prices in top exporter Russia.

Corn prices were pressured by data showing a larger-than-expected net long position by commodity funds, although losses were limited by hopes for imports by China as part of a trade war truce between U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping earlier this month.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture did not announce any new export sales on Monday via its daily reporting system after confirming more than 1.5 million tonnes in soybean sales to China last week.

Traders are expecting additional soybean buying as the initial tranche of deals fell short of market expectations for at least five million tonnes in purchases. Some traders also expect China to buy U.S. corn, wheat and other agricultural goods.

“It certainly looks like somebody believes that China is in the market for more soybeans. We haven’t seen any announcements today but we’re hopeful to see more,” said Mark Gold, managing partner with Top Third Ag Marketing in Chicago.

Chicago Board of Trade March soybeans gained 4-1/4 cents to $9.18 a bushel after falling more than two per cent over the previous two sessions (all figures US$).

CBOT March wheat added 5-1/4 cents to $5.35-1/4 a bushel, while March corn shed 3/4 cent to $3.84 a bushel.

Russian wheat export prices rose sharply last week, and concerns are mounting that the country may limit exports later this season.

An unexpectedly large increase in long positions by commodity funds last week weighed on corn prices, Gold said.

The U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said on Friday that funds switched to a net long position of nearly 30,000 contracts in the week ended Dec. 11, from net short 14,000 contracts the previous week. It was the first time funds were net long in corn since late June.

CFTC data also showed funds narrowed their net short position in wheat but retained a sizeable net short position in soybeans.

The National Oilseed Processors Association said on Monday that U.S. soy crushers processed a smaller-than-expected 167 million bushels of beans last month, although the crush was the largest on record for November.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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