U.S. grains: Soy down fourth straight week on export worries, big supplies

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures eased on Friday for a sixth consecutive session, posting a fourth straight weekly drop as rain-delayed U.S. corn planting may fuel a shift to more soybean acres despite sluggish export demand from top importer China.

Corn edged upward for a seventh straight day and notched its first weekly gain in four weeks, lifted by concerns about late planting and possible yield declines due to excessive rains and flooding this spring.

Wheat eased after two sessions of strong gains as traders pocketed profits from a run to two-week highs.

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Much of the market’s focus remained on Midwestern weather, with corn planting already behind the normal pace. Traders are also keen to hear any developments from U.S.-China trade talks, which are due to shift from Beijing to Washington next week.

“It’s just kind of a choppy day. The beans were incredibly oversold, making new contract lows yesterday. We had the (export) sale to Mexico so they were supported early in the day, but they’ve backed off now,” said Mark Gold, managing partner at Top Third Ag Marketing.

“The talk is that we will lose corn acres into beans because of wet planting,” he said.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) July soybeans ended down a penny at $8.42-1/4 a bushel after notching a contract low of $8.40-1/2 (all figures US$). The contract was down 2.9 per cent in the week.

July corn settled 1/4 cent higher at $3.70-3/4 a bushel, ending the week up 2.6 per cent.

CBOT July wheat fell six cents to $4.38 a bushel, closing out the week down one per cent, a fourth straight weekly drop.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported 293,922 tonnes in new-crop U.S. soybean sales to Mexico on Friday.

Sales to top importer China remain quiet.

U.S. Vice-President Mike Pence said on Friday that President Donald Trump would “stand firm” on his demands for structural changes to China’s trade practices, and removal of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods would be a part of a mechanism to enforce any deal with Beijing. But he added that Trump “remains very hopeful” about reaching a deal in talks next week.

More rain expected around the Midwest next week is likely to keep many farmers sidelined instead of planting corn.

USDA is due to update its planting progress estimate on Monday, with corn planting sure to remain well behind the normal early-May pace.

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

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