U.S. grains: Soybeans bounce ahead of USDA data

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures inched higher on Thursday as traders covered shorts and squared positions a day after a steep drop to four-month lows and on the eve of U.S. government stocks and planting reports.

Corn futures were flat as improving crop prospects in South America offset concerns about flooding in the U.S. Midwest that could clip acres planted with the grain.

Wheat futures eased as the U.S. dollar firmed and as technical selling and positioning ahead of Friday’s U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reports weighed on the market.

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“Corn and beans are taking back some of yesterday’s losses as we get ready for the report tomorrow. Wheat’s still under pressure and the dollar being stronger isn’t helping,” said Ted Seifried, chief ag market strategist of the Zaner Group.

Chicago Board of Trade May soybeans rose two cents to $8.89-1/2 a bushel, holding chart support at a four-month low of $8.86 posted in the previous session (all figures US$).

May corn was 1/4 cent higher at $3.74 a bushel while CBOT May wheat dropped five cents, to $4.64-1/2 a bushel.

Soybeans drew support from another large purchase by China on Thursday as the latest round of trade talks kicked off in Beijing. Traders said state-owned firms booked about 1.5 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans for shipment this summer.

However, China’s U.S. soy purchases remain well below their normal pace as steep tariffs imposed by Beijing remain in place.

USDA data also showed soybean export sales last week less than 200,000 tonnes, far below analyst expectations for 500,000 to one million tonnes.

Corn and wheat export sales were in line with trade forecasts.

Grain markets are consolidating in the run-up to Friday’s USDA acreage report, which will be released along with quarterly grain stocks estimates.

The planting estimates come as traders assess risks to spring planting from flooding in parts of the U.S. Midwest.

The prospect of farmers switching acreage from corn to later-planted soybeans because of waterlogged conditions has hung over the soybean market this week.

Traders were assessing the risk of more flooding as snow melts in the northern Plains, as well as chances for further rain that could hold up planting of corn and spring wheat.

The governor of North Dakota, the largest spring wheat-producing state, declared a statewide flood emergency in preparation for the threat of significant spring flooding.

— Karl Plume reports on agriculture and ag commodities for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney.

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