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Soybean Futures Fall Below $9 as US-China Momentum Fades

July 2, 2019 at 16:43 by Andrew Moran

Soybean futures are retreating to $9 on Tuesday as momentum from renewed trade negotiations between the US and China fades. As a sign of good faith, Washington confirmed that Beijing will purchase more soybeans, which comes as China’s production push is failing to meet its objective. The US government also announced that soybean planting for the season is now complete and most of the crop has received positive ratings.

September soybean futures tumbled $0.08, or 0.9%, to $8.8825 per bushel at 16:10 GMT on Tuesday on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBoT). Soybeans have had a volatile year, starting off the year deep in red territory on the US-China trade war. However, the agricultural commodity has risen 2.4% in the last month, bringing its year-to-date gain to just under 1%.

Prior to the G20 summit meeting between President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed that Chinese importers purchased 544,000 tonnes of US soybeans for shipment in the 2018–2019 marketing year, set to expire on August 31.

This represents the largest US soybean sale to China since the end of March.

In December, China agreed to acquire 14 million tonnes from the US during a trade truce; eight million has been shipped, but six million tonnes have yet to be delivered.

Soon after the recent announcement, the White House and Beijing confirmed that both sides were hitting the pause button on tariffs and restart trade negotiations.

The timing is interesting because the move comes on reports that China’s five-year plan to spur soybean output to offset reliance on foreign markets is not exactly going to plan. Beijing wants to boost production by 20% within the next two years, which would reduce US imports by 70%. However, farmers are upset because government subsidies that have been used to encourage farmers to switch to soybean and increase production have changed and dried up.

For example, one local government began to allocate $21.80 in subsidies for every 667 square meters of land used for soybean in February. A month later, the agricultural ministry scrapped the subsidy, angering local growers.

On Monday, the USDA published its Crop Progress and Conditions report, confirming that corn and soybean planning is mostly complete. The US government reported that the soybean crop is at 83%, below the five-year average of 95%. More than half (54%) of the crop is rated good to excellent.

In other agricultural markets, July corn futures advanced $0.0425, or 1.01%, to $4.2675 per pound. September wheat futures fell $0.0775, or 1.51%, to $5.04 a bushel. September orange juice futures edged up $0.003, or 0.3%, to $1.008 per pound.

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