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Soybean Rises as US Agriculture Poised for Rebound

December 17, 2018 at 18:21 by Andrew Moran

Soybean futures are rallying to kick off the trading week after the US government reported that China is purchasing domestic agriculture again. This is great news for an industry that has been decimated since the White House engaged in a bitter trade dispute with China. Can US soybean keep up the upward momentum?

March soybean futures rose $0.475, or 0.52%, to $9.185 per bushel at 16:54 GMT on Monday on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBoT). Soybean prices have rebounded over the last month, advancing nearly 4% and potentially bottoming out at the end of September. Year-to-date, soybean is still down 7%, but the agricultural commodity could have a better 2019.

In the aftermath of the G20 summit in Argentina, President Donald Trump and President Xi Jinping announced a 90-day trade truce between the world’s two largest economies. The agreement involved Washington postponing hikes to tariffs and Beijing to buy more US agriculture and slash automobile tariffs. It looks like the temporary suspension on the trade war is paying off.

Reuters reported last week that Chinese state-owned businesses acquired about 500,000 tonnes of US soybeans, the first major purchase since the trade truce was announced. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) confirmed the transaction, but it did say that private sales totaled 1.13 million tonnes.

USDA Deputy Secretary Steve Censky said at an Iowa Soybean Association annual meeting that the figures are great but more work needs to be done:

Having a million, million-and-a-half tonnes is great, it’s wonderful, it’s a great step.

But there needs to be a lot more as well, especially if you consider it in a normal, typical year, we’ll be selling 30 to 35 million metric tonnes to China.

Historically, China has been the biggest buyer of US soy, importing roughly two-thirds of all US foreign shipments in 2017, valuing more than $12 billion. Since the tariffs went into effect, China has imported fewer amounts of soybeans, though shipments have still been sent to the country. Beijing has also turned to Brazil for demand, but the South American country failed to keep up with the demand.

That said, with storage costs surging, inventories rotting, and farms going bust, this is positive news for a sector that has been decimated in recent months.

In other agricultural commodities, March corn futures dipped $0.15, or 0.39%, to $3.83 per pound. March wheat futures tacked on $0.05, or 0.94%, to $5.35 per bushel. January orange juice futures added $0.085, or 0.61%, to $1.40 a pound.

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