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Soybean Sideways After China’s US Imports Slump to Three-Month Low

November 27, 2019 at 16:25 by Andrew Moran

Soybean futures are trading sideways midweek after recently rebounding from eight-week lows. The agricultural commodity remains in the spotlight during the US-China trade negotiations. Investors might need to apply caution following new data that suggests China is not importing enough soybeans from the US after pledging to buy up to $50 billion in American agriculture.

January soybean futures dipped $0.025, or 0.03%, to $8.84 per bushel at 15:06 GMT on Wednesday on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBoT). Soybean prices recently turned negative on the year, falling 1.15% year-to-date. Soybean is on track for a weekly loss of at least 2%.

Despite Beijing and Washington ostensibly nearing a phase one deal as part of a comprehensive trade agreement, China is not being as bullish on US soybean as initially thought, according to the latest customs data from October.

China’s inbound shipments from the US declined to 1.15 million tons in October, down from 1.73 million tons in September. The upside is that they are nearly 67,000 tons higher than at the same time a year ago. The key part of the report is that China purchased 3.8 million tons of soybeans from Brazil and 960,000 tons from Argentina.

It is estimated that approximately 1.8 million tons of soybeans were being held at the nation’s ports. Local buyers are required to pay a huge deposit to customers before they can receive refunds on the 30% retaliatory levies. It should be noted that most of these soybeans are for state reserves.

In total, China’s imports could top 8.5 million tons in November following the delays last month, forecasts the China National Grain and Oils Information Center. Experts say this would ease shortages facing a growing number of crushers.

This comes after the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported that roughly 1.35 million tons of domestic soybeans were inspected and loaded for export to China last week. This represents the biggest inspections of shipments in two years. But this may be just a short-term boost since the US may need to compete with Brazil if Beijing refuses to extend additional duty waivers amid the tariffs.

In other agricultural markets, December corn futures tumbled $0.0125, or 0.33%, to $3.77 per pound. December wheat futures slid $0.0025, or 0.05%, to $5.3075 a bushel. January orange juice futures rose $0.003, or 0.3%, to $1.0005 a pound.

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