U.S. grains: Soybeans firm on China soy purchase, corn falls on uncertain U.S. harvest

Chicago | Reuters – U.S. soybeans futures firmed on Friday on news of another Chinese purchase of U.S. oilseeds and renewed hopes of progress in talks to resolve the trade war that has dramatically cut U.S. soybean exports to China.

Wheat futures were stubbornly rangebound thanks to a weakening dollar. Corn prices stuttered as the market remained underpinned by a slow U.S. harvest pace and a storm this week that brought snow to the central Plains and western Midwest.

“Between the harvest and selling pressures in the grains over the past few weeks, the market is struggling to find the food to feed the bull right now,” said Ted Seifried, chief ag market strategist at the Zaner Ag Hedge Group.

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Chicago Board of Trade’s most active corn contract closed the day down 0.38 percent at $3.89-1/4 a bushel, having also fallen on Thursday after drier U.S. harvest weather was forecast for the next few days.

Soybeans rose 0.48 percent to $9.36-3/4 a bushel and wheat rose 1.18 percent to $5.16 a bushel.

Traders said the Chicago Board of Trade’s November soybean futures contract drew support from delivery data showing that a commercial customer of JPMorgan, which traders believe to be Cargill, received or “stopped” 1,426 deliveries against the November contract, which expires this month.

Traders tend to view the receipt of deliveries by a commercial grain handler, such as Cargill, as a sign of strong demand in the cash market.

In another positive sign for soy, private exporters reported the sale of 132,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China on Friday morning, the latest in a string of purchases that the top buyer of the oilseed has booked amid talks to end a bilateral trade war that has lasted more than a year.

“That sale helped ease some of the market’s concerns about the progress of the trade talks between the U.S. and China,” said Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics.

The talks are making progress and the United States still aims to sign an initial deal this month, although the phase one agreement remains unfinished and some issues will be pushed to a second pact, White House adviser Larry Kudlow told Fox Business Network in an interview on Friday.

He added that agreements on agriculture, financial services and currency were nearly complete.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also said on Friday morning that the Phase 1 trade agreement with China appeared to be “in good shape” and likely to be signed in mid-November.

– Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago, Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Colin Packham in Sydney 

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