U.S. grains: Soybeans slip to five-month low ahead of USDA data

Chicago/Reuters – U.S. soybean futures fell to a five-month low on Thursday while corn and wheat weakened as traders adjusted positions ahead of U.S. Department of Agriculture data that was expected to show abundant supplies of each crop.

Prices for all three commodities eased in relatively subdued trading before Friday’s USDA annual prospective plantings and quarterly grain stocks reports – data releases that typically result in increased volume and volatility.

Separately, USDA data released earlier on Thursday showed weekly U.S. corn export sales of 716,000 tonnes for shipment during the current marketing season, below estimates for 900,000 to 1.2 million tonnes. Weekly sales of soybeans and wheat were above estimates.

“Domestic supplies (are) so overwhelming that even strong sales and shipments paces over the first half of the corn and soybean marketing season (are) failing to make a real dent in stocks,” INTL FCStone analyst Matt Zeller said in a note to clients.

“Bearish CBOT traders are expecting that theme to continue tomorrow with healthy March 1 stocks and strong corn and bean acreage seen coming from the USDA,” Zeller added.

Chicago Board of Trade May soybean futures finished 6 cents lower at $9.63 per bushel, off their earlier multimonth low of $9.61.

CBOT May corn fell 1 cent to $3.57-1/2 per bushel while CBOT May wheat settled down 4-1/2 cents at $4.21 per bushel, each holding above their 2017 lows reached on Monday.

Friday’s USDA planting and stocks reports could increase supply pressure by showing a jump in the U.S. soybean planted area and a rise in soybean, corn and wheat inventories.

“Soybeans stayed under pressure with the prospect of a record acreage in the United States and an abundant harvest on the South American continent,” consultancy Agritel said in a note.

Forecasters have steadily increased their estimates for South American soybean production in recent weeks, including an expected record harvest in Brazil.

There was also concern that Chinese demand for soybeans may slow after crush margins for imported soybeans in China’s Shandong province <JCI-SBMG-SHDNI> slid to negative 166 yuan, the lowest since August.

Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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