Chicago | Reuters — Chinese buying pushed U.S. soybean futures to their highest prices in more than two years on Thursday, while corn and wheat futures slumped.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed private exporters sold 132,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China and another 318,000 tonnes to unknown destinations, all for delivery in the 2020-21 marketing year that began on Sept. 1.
Traders on Wednesday told Reuters that Chinese state-owned firms had bought at least 480,000 tonnes for shipment in December and January.
China, the world’s top soybean importer, has been seeking to combat jitters over food security. It was the top buyer of U.S. soybeans, corn, wheat and pork in the week ended Aug. 27, according to USDA data.
“China has stated that there is no food shortage in the country but continues to import large volumes of all commodities,” said Karl Setzer, commodity risk analyst for AgriVisor.
The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) closed up four cents at $9.66 a bushel and touched its highest price since June 2018 at $9.68-1/4 (all figures US$).
CBOT corn dropped five cents to $3.53-3/4 a bushel, and wheat fell five cents to $5.53-1/4.
Wheat markets have been supported recently by a steep rise in Russian export prices, which steadied on Thursday.
Egypt’s state grains buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities, said it bought 55,000 tonnes of Russian wheat in an international tender.
USDA reported total U.S. wheat export sales of 585,400 tonnes in the week ended Aug. 27, toward the high end of analysts’ expectations. Weekly U.S. sales were 1.851 million tonnes for soybeans and 2.485 million tonnes for corn, both near the high end of estimates.
Traders are waiting for USDA to update its U.S. corn and soy harvest forecasts in a monthly supply and demand report due on Sept. 11, after dryness hurt Midwest crops and a windstorm flattened Iowa fields last month.
–– Reporting for Reuters by Tom Polansek in Chicago, Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.