U.S. grains: Soybeans slump on big harvest, trade war worries

Corn, wheat slide as market awaits USDA report

(VBacarin/iStock/Getty Images)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures fell for a second day on Wednesday, shedding more than one per cent on expectations of a bumper U.S. crop and concerns about a protracted U.S.-China trade war that has already depressed demand for U.S. shipments.

Corn and wheat also eased as traders squared positions ahead of a monthly U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report due on Thursday that is expected to show bigger supplies of both crops.

The selling pressure more than offset support stemming from rainy weather around the central U.S. that has slowed corn and soybean harvesting and flooded some newly planted winter wheat fields.

“Soybean traders are more concerned about USDA pushing the size of the crop up in the face of a prolonged trade war with China than they are about possible problems due to excessive rains,” Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at INTL FCStone, said in a note to clients.

Forecasters expect drier weather in the western Midwest next week, which should help boost harvesting.

In a weekly report late Tuesday, USDA said soybeans were 32 per cent harvested as of Sunday, below trade expectations and behind the five-year average of 36 per cent.

USDA pegged the corn harvest at 34 per cent complete and said winter wheat seeding was 57 per cent finished, both ahead of average.

The agency is expected to raise its U.S. corn and soybean yield and production forecasts on Thursday and increase its end-of-season U.S. and global stocks projections for corn, soy and wheat.

Chicago Board of Trade November soybean futures were 10-3/4 cents lower at $8.52-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). Selling accelerated as the contract fell below its 10- and 50-day moving averages.

CBOT December corn was 1-3/4 cents lower at $3.62-3/4 a bushel, ending lower for a third straight day. December wheat fell 4-1/2 cents to $5.10-1/2 a bushel.

Soybeans were pressured by renewed threats from U.S. President Donald Trump on Tuesday to impose tariffs on $267 billion worth of additional Chinese imports.

The trade spat has already stifled lucrative flows of U.S. soybeans to China, the world’s largest importer of the oilseed.

Meanwhile, Trump’s decision to end a ban on summer sales of gasoline with 15 per cent ethanol helped to limit declines in corn. The move, which would increase demand for the grain, was seen as designed to reassure farmers hurt by the U.S.-China trade dispute and who have long sought relief for corn-based ethanol.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and commodities for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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