U.S. grains: Trade hopes spur gains in soy futures

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. soybean futures firmed for the third time in four sessions on Thursday, supported by a better-than-expected export report and hopes for a trade deal with China, traders said.

Corn futures also closed in positive territory, with more rain in the U.S. Midwest sparking fresh concerns about planting delays in key growing areas.

But soft red winter wheat eased, giving up early gains on a technical setback. MGEX spring wheat fell for the sixth day in a row, pressured by expectations of rising acreage in Canada.

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U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday that trade talks with China were going well and he would only accept a “great” deal as negotiators hammered out differences ahead of a meeting between Trump and China’s vice-premier later in the day.

U.S. officials have cited progress in the talks on tricky aspects, including reforming practices such as intellectual property theft and forced transfer of technology from U.S. companies doing business in China.

“It looks like some kind of a deal is going to come out,” said Karl Setzer, operations manager for U.S. grain elevator company Citizens LLC. “We don’t know what, but it actually looks a little positive.”

The U.S. Agriculture Department on Thursday said weekly soybean export sales totaled 1.992 million tonnes, topping a range of trade forecasts.

The report showed soybean export sales to China in the week were 1.7 million tonnes, up from zero the previous week.

Chicago Board of Trade May soybean futures ended up 7-3/4 cents at $9.06-1/2 a bushel (all figures US$). Soybean prices hit their highest since March 26.

Some buy stops were triggered when prices passed $9 a bushel, pushing the market to its session peak, Setzer added.

CBOT May wheat was down 1/4 cent at $4.70-3/4 a bushel. Wheat peaked at $4.77-1/2 a bushel shortly after the market reopened on Thursday morning but turned lower after failing to take out its March high of $4.78 a bushel.

MGEX May spring wheat ended at $5.27-1/4 a bushel, down 7-1/2 cents, after touching a contract low of $5.25-3/4.

Wheat export sales also were bigger than expected, totaling 1.018 million tonnes, while corn export sales of 630,200 tonnes fell below the low end of a range of analysts’ expectations.

CBOT May corn was 2-1/2 cents higher at $3.65-1/4 a bushel.

“Rains will also spread into the eastern and southern Midwest, which will continue to slow corn planting there,” Don Keeney, senior agricultural meteorologist for weather forecaster Radiant Solutions, said in a note to clients.

— Mark Weinraub is a Reuters commodities correspondent in Chicago; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore. Includes files from Glacier FarmMedia Network staff.

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