U.S. grains: Soy futures touch new four-year top

Pfizer update on COVID vaccine sends shares, oil higher

CBOT January 2021 soybeans with 20-, 50- and 100-day moving averages. (Barchart)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures reached a new four-year high on Monday as the first successful data from a late-stage COVID-19 vaccine trial fueled hopes of the economy recovering quickly from the pandemic-driven crisis.

Broad optimism about Pfizer’s vaccine trials added support to a soybean market already buoyed by strong Chinese demand and weather risks in South America.

The “positive ramifications of Pfizer news today cannot be overstated,” said Rich Feltes, a grain analyst and head of market insights for U.S. futures brokerage RJ O’Brien.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) ended up nine cents at $11.10-1/2 per bushel (all figures US$). It earlier rose to $11.18 a bushel, its highest price since July 2016.

Most-active corn futures crawled 3/4-cent higher to $4.07-1/2 per bushel, while wheat slid 4-1/2 cents to $5.97-1/2 per bushel at the CBOT.

Traders adjusted positions in the markets before the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) issues a monthly report on Tuesday that is expected to trim the government’s estimates for domestic soybean and corn yields and inventories.

An uptick in demand for U.S. farm products from China, the world’s top soybean importer, has helped to draw down U.S. ending stocks.

USDA, in a daily reporting system for export sales, said on Monday that exporters sold 123,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to unknown destinations.

The deal is “a continuation of post-election buying,” Feltes said, after USDA on Friday announced separate U.S. soybean export sales to China and unknown buyers.

USDA, in a weekly report released after the market closed on Monday, said the U.S. soybean crop was 92 per cent harvested and corn was 91 per cent harvested, compared with expectations for 94 and 91 per cent, respectively. The agency rated 45 per cent of the nation’s winter wheat crop as good or excellent, compared with expectations for 44 per cent.

— Reporting for Reuters by Tom Polansek in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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