Agriculture Resurgent as Soybeans Top $10 on Weather Concerns

  • Soybean prices rise to the highest since July in Chicago
  • Flooding trims crops in Argentina; dryness hurts Brazil output

Soybeans extended a rally above $10 a bushel, the highest price since July, and corn traded near $4 a bushel as unfavorable weather in South America and prospects for improved demand for U.S. supplies bolstered agriculture markets.

Dryness in Brazil is causing conditions to deteriorate for its second corn crop, and the country suspended import tariffs for the next six months, signaling the grower may need to ship grain in. Flooding in Argentina, the third-largest soybean grower, is expected to cut output there by about 5 percent, according to Oil World. With South American plants under threat, more buyers may turn to U.S. growers for supplies, especially as the dollar’s decline against the real make its shipments relatively cheaper.

The gains show that futures may be bottoming after reaching multi-year lows this month. Even with most grains still plagued by supply surpluses, optimism has been growing over the past several weeks amid signs of stabilizing demand in China and unexpected weather concerns for South American harvests. The likelihood of a La Nina pattern this year also brings the threat of drought to U.S. growing areas later this season.

“Crop estimates are trending lower both in Brazil for corn and Argentina for soybeans at a time when we largely thought those crops were made and soon to be put away,” Brian Roach, president of Roach Ag Marketing in Boca Raton, Florida, said in a telephone interview.

Prices Jump

Soybeans for July delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade climbed as much as 0.9 percent to $10.28 1/2 a bushel, the highest since July, extending a rally to the third straight day. Corn for the same delivery month was trading near $4 a bushel, after reaching the highest since August on Wednesday. Both crops have risen more than 12 percent this month. Wheat rose above $5 a bushel, touching the highest since mid-November.

Soybean crushing margins jumped fourfold in China on Wednesday, and futures volume surged on the Dalian Commodity Exchange, boosting demand for imported soybeans, said Charlie Sernatinger, head of grain futures for ED&F Man Capital Markets LLC in Chicago.

Market participation in Chicago also expanded as prices rallied. The expiration of May soybean options on Friday triggered increased trading, and futures volumes surged to an estimated 795,002, topping yesterday’s record 615,075. Open interest is also at an all-time high.

Related: For more on increased soybean trading, click here.

“Chinese crushing margins popped overnight on a strong rally in soybean meal and they were in buying more cargoes for forward shipment,” Sernatinger said. “It’s still raining in Argentina, giving farmers few opportunities to harvest, but it will be at least another week before the full extent of damage will be known.”

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