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Soybean Futures Rally As China’s April Imports Up 15.9% MoM

May 29, 2019 at 16:28 by Andrew Moran

Soybean futures are rallying midweek after new data found that Chinese imports of US soybeans surged last month, which occurred prior to the escalation in trade tensions between the world’s two largest economies. But the industry is also paying attention to farmers, who have been decimated over the last year because of the trade dispute.

July soybean futures surged $0.19, or 2.25%, to $8.7525 per bushel at 15:58 GMT on Wednesday on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBoT). Soybean prices have already advanced more than 5% this week, paring much of the agricultural commodity’s losses in 2019. Year-to-date, soybean is down 2%, but has plunged 14% over the last 12 months.

According to data from the General Administration of Customs, China imported 1.75 million tonnes of soybean from the US, up 15.9% from the 1.51 million tonnes Beijing imported in the previous month. But the world’s second-largest economy also increased its imports of Brazilian soybeans. China purchased 5.79 million tonnes from Brazil last month, more than double the 2.79 million tonnes in March.

Overall, China imported 7.64 million tonnes of soybeans in April, up 11% from March.

The cut in the value-added tax (VAT) on agricultural goods as of April 1 attracted buyers.

It remains unclear if China, which is the world’s biggest consumer of soybean, will continue this upward trend with the US. The surge in imports came only weeks before Washington announced it would be raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to 25%. This was followed by China retaliating with tariff hikes on $60 billion in American products.

As a result, farmers in the Midwest are delaying their planting. Industry data found that delayed planting is leading to a jump in the seeding rate; one estimate showed that the soybean crop is only 9% planted. Many growers are either waiting to see what happens in the US-China trade spate or are shifting away from the crop and into other lucrative markets, such as wheat, cotton, and alfalfa.

Despite the recent rally, US farmers have been heavily impacted by the trade dispute. With prices tumbling to multi-year lows, American farmers lost $3.3 billion in 2018. Since prices will likely remain under the $10-per-bushel mark, farmers could lose roughly the same amount.

In other commodity markets, July corn futures rose $0.0275, or 0.65%, to $4.23 per pound. July wheat futures plummeted $0.065, or 1.29%, to $4.9825 a bushel. July orange juice futures dipped $0.0025, or 0.24%, to $1.04 per pound.

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