U.S. grains: Soybeans fall as huge harvest looms

soy
(Scott Bauer photo courtesy ARS/USDA)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures declined on Thursday on expectations of a massive U.S. harvest and worries about sluggish demand, traders said.

Wheat futures fell on technical selling and profit-taking after Wednesday’s 3.5 per cent surge while corn futures were little changed.

Chicago Board of Trade November soybean futures settled down 4-1/2 cents at $8.31-1/2 per bushel after dipping 4$8.29, the contract’s lowest since July 16. CBOT December wheat ended down 6-3/4 cents at $5.35 a bushel while December corn finished steady at $3.56-1/2.

Soybeans slipped as traders braced for a record-large crop, with the harvest already under way in the Mississippi River Delta region.

After the CBOT close, commodity brokerage INTL FCStone raised its forecast of the U.S. 2018 soybean yield to 53.8 bushels per acre, up from its Aug. 1 figure of 51.5 and a record high if realized.

The firm trimmed its corn yield estimate to 177.7 bu./ac., down from 178.1 a month ago but still a record high if realized.

“We have got too many beans and not enough demand, and the (domestic cash) basis levels are just absolutely ugly,” said Tom Fritz, a partner at EFG Group in Chicago.

Others cited disappointing weekly U.S. export data. USDA reported export sales of U.S. soybeans in the latest week at 702,400 tonnes (old- and new-crop years combined), toward the low end of trade expectations.

“We did one million tonnes last week, and people were thrilled. The corn and bean sales were close to 700,000 (tonnes) but were down considerably on a week-to-week basis,” said Jack Scoville, analyst with the Price Futures Group.

Additional pressure stemmed from fears that African swine fever in China’s hog herd might eventually slow demand for soymeal. The disease infected 185 pigs in eastern China’s Anhui province, the Ministry of Agriculture said Thursday, marking the country’s fifth case in less than a month.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue said China’s swine fever outbreak is probably bigger than what has been reported publicly.

Wheat futures turned lower, retreating from early advances tied to ideas that Russia, the world’s biggest wheat supplier, might curtail exports after a disappointing harvest this summer.

Russia’s agriculture ministry will discuss the current grain market situation, production and export plans during its routine meeting with exporters on Sept. 3, the ministry told Reuters.

But traders said Wednesday’s rally on the Russian news was overdone, leaving CBOT wheat vulnerable to a downward correction.

Corn appeared to draw support from inter-market spreading, gaining against wheat and soybeans, analysts said.

— Julie Ingwersen is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral and Sybille de La Hamaide.

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