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Soybeans, Corn Rise as South America Crop Concern Boosts Demand

Soybeans and corn rallied to the highest prices in more than six weeks as warm, dry weather threatened crops in Argentina and Brazil, boosting demand prospects for supplies from the U.S., the world’s top exporter.

Most fields in Argentina and southern Brazil will get less than 0.5 inch (1.3 centimeters) of rain during the next five days, before dry weather returns through Feb. 10, T-Storm Weather LLC said in a report today. Temperatures rose above 100 degrees Fahrenheit (38 Celsius) yesterday, increasing stress on reproducing crops. In central Brazil, frequent rain over the next 10 days will slow harvesting of mature crops, T-Storm said.

“The weather is more threatening, and some traders are already talking about lower corn and soybean yields,” Joseph Vaclavik, the president of Standard Grain Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “The rain in Brazil is slowing harvesting activity, and that could help to boost demand for U.S. supplies.”

Soybean futures for March delivery surged 1.9 percent to close at $14.7875 a bushel at 2 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest gain since Jan. 14. Earlier, the most-active contract touched $14.8175, the highest since Dec. 18.

Corn futures for March delivery rose 1.5 percent to $7.4025 a bushel in Chicago, after touching $7.41, the highest for a most-active contract since Dec. 7.

U.S. corn and soybean inventories on Dec. 1 fell to the lowest in nine years after the worst drought since the 1930s cut production for a third consecutive year.

Forecast Cut

Soybean output in Argentina, the biggest shipper of animal feed and vegetable oil made from the crop, may be cut to 50 million metric tons, Eduardo Sierra, the chief agro-climatologist at the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange, said today in an e-mail. That compares with 54 million tons estimated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Jan. 11

Shipping delays of as much as 35 days in Brazil may help to boost demand for U.S. crops, Vaclavik said. As many as 126 vessels were scheduled to load 6.2 million tons of soybeans and corn as of yesterday, according to shipping agency Unimar Agenciamentos Maritimos Ltda. That compares with 72 ships carrying 2.8 million tons a year earlier and 47 vessels with 1.5 million tons in 2011, its data showed.

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