U.S. grains: Soybeans retreat from seven-week high

Ripe soybeans near Morden, Man. on Sept. 14, 2017. (Allan Dawson photo)

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures pulled back on Thursday after concerns about drought in rival exporter Argentina temporarily pushed prices above US$10 a bushel for the first time in seven weeks.

The market finished unchanged, breaking a streak of eight sessions with consecutive advances. A ninth session would have marked the longest string of gains in nearly six years.

Traders were closely watching weather conditions in Argentina because it is the world’s No. 3 exporter of soybeans and corn and the No. 1 supplier of soymeal livestock feed.

Argentina trimmed its soy and corn-planting estimates as key parts of the Pampas grains belt contend with excessively hot, dry conditions that could cause a decline in yields and sowing area.

However, big harvests in Brazil and the U.S., the world’s top two soybean exporters, may offset losses in Argentina. The U.S. Department of Agriculture this month projected world soybean inventories at the end of the 2017-18 marketing year at an all-time high of 98.57 million tonnes.

“There is not a shortage,” said Jason Roose, vice president of Iowa-based broker U.S. Commodities.

The most actively traded soybean contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade ended flat at $9.92-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$). Prices traded up to $10.02, the highest since Dec. 7.

CBOT wheat and corn each reached their highest prices since Dec. 4. Wheat ended up 1-1/2 cents at $4.34-1/2 a bushel, while corn settled 1-1/4 cents lower at $3.55-1/4 a bushel.

Recent gains in the markets prompted farmers to sell corn and soybeans they had been keeping in storage from previous harvests due to low prices, agricultural merchants said.

“The massive amount of old grain out in the country is limiting any upside,” Roose said.

Farmers and traders were also keeping an eye on movements in the U.S. dollar as declines make greenback-priced commodities cheaper to global buyers. The dollar rebounded after hitting its lowest since December 2014 against a basket of other currencies .

On Wednesday, weakness in the dollar and traders buying back previously sold, or short, positions had helped push grain prices to multi-week highs.

“To see a setback following the volume of short covering corn has enjoyed this week is not surprising,” said Karl Setzer, risk management team leader for MaxYield Cooperative in Iowa.

“The question in the market now is if funds have covered all they wish to at this point or if we will see more buying surface.”

— Tom Polansek reports on agriculture and agribusiness for Reuters from Chicago; additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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