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Soybeans Reverse Skid as US Export Inspections Post Weekly Surge

February 4, 2020 at 16:16 by Andrew Moran

Soybean futures are trading higher on Tuesday as new US government data show that export inspections posted a double-digit increase from the previous week. It is not too surprising that the Wuhan coronavirus is affecting the agricultural commodity’s performance as investors are bearish on China’s demand for soybeans.

March soybean futures rose $0.02, or 0.23%, to $8.79 per bushel at 14:57 GMT on Tuesday on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBoT). Soybean prices are down 8% so far this year, and they were on a downward trend before the coronavirus outbreak made international headlines. Soybean failed to capture any momentum from the first phase in the US-China trade agreement.

According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), the volume of American soybeans inspected for shipment surged 28% to 1.356 million metric tons in the week ending January 230. This is also up 24% from the same time a year ago. In total, export inspections for the current marketing year (September 1) have hit 26.595 million mt, accounting for 55% of the USDA’s projections for the 2019–2020 season.

While this would drive the soybean market in any typical environment, the coronavirus is the key factor impacting commodities. The outbreak has affected every region of China, and many municipalities remain under lockdown. If this persists, then demand would come under tremendous pressure. The death toll has risen to 426 and the number of confirmed cases exceeded 20,000.

It will not help that Brazil’s February soybean exports will top January’s shipments. It is estimated that exports will hit seven million tons as the South American nation is witnessing an incredible harvest.

Argentina’s situation remains unclear because rains have been plentiful in important parts of the country, but they have been uneven and could affect crop yields.

In other commodity markets, March corn futures picked up $0.0375, or 0.99%, to $3.8250 per pound. March wheat futures jumped $0.035, or 0.63%, to $5.59 per bushel. March orange juice futures tumbled 1.40 cents, or 1.48%, to 93.20 cents per pound.

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