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Soybean Futures Plunge on Chinese Demand Concerns

May 16, 2018 at 16:08 by Andrew Moran

Soybean futures are plummeting midweek as the US agriculture sector is still concerned about slowing Chinese demand moving forward. With Washington and Beijing still stuck in heated trade negotiations, investors fear the world’s largest purchaser of American soybeans could look elsewhere for supplies.

July soybean futures fell $0.1575, or 1.55%, to $10.03 per bushel at 15:37 GMT on Wednesday on the US ICE Futures exchange. The agricultural commodity has slipped 5% since China listed tariffs on a wide array of US goods and services.

Year-to-date, soybean prices are still up about 2%.

On Wednesday, President Donald Trump confirmed that China still has “much to give” Washington on trade between the globe’s two top economies. This comes as the president has been helping China’s ZTE Corp, despite lawmakers rejecting plans to ease restrictions on the telecommunications giant, calling the firm a potential national security threat.

This has US farmers fearful that Chinese demand for soybeans and other agricultural products could diminish moving forward. The Chinese government is already reacting by announcing that it wants to boost domestic production and will offer subsidies to farmers in four provinces. Overall, Beijing has adopted a five-year plan to increase soybean output.

Although China mainly imports from the US, purchases of domestic soybeans has declined in recent weeks, according to industry analysts. Many investors have thought Brazilian soybean exports would surge, but the South American nation has not experienced an uptick in the same time period.

Speaking to Reuters, a trader at a multinational company warned:

The worst is yet to come, next month will be really bad. Crushing plants are packed with soymeal and pig farmers are sending a message that demand is weak. There is not a single Chinese buyer for Brazilian beans in the market for prompt shipment.

Other agricultural commodities are mixed on Wednesday. July corn futures slipped $0.01, or 0.25%, to $4.01 per pound. July wheat futures jumped $0.0125, or 0.20%, to $4.95 per bushel. July coffee futures were flat at $1.117 per pound. July orange juice futures advanced $0.025, or 0.15%, to $1.701 a pound.

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