Soybeans Head for Fifth Weekly Gain as U.S. Exports Cut Supplies

Soybeans were headed for a fifth straight weekly gain on signs demand for U.S. supplies increased and before a government report that may show the country’s stockpiles will drop to a nine-year low.

In the week to Jan. 31, U.S. exporters sold 896,166 metric tons of soybeans for delivery this marketing year, more than double the amount a week earlier, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said yesterday. A further 771,040 tons were sold for delivery in the next season beginning Sept. 1. A USDA report at noon today in Washington may say that domestic inventories will slide to 130 million bushels by Aug. 31, below the 135 million bushels forecast last month, according to a Bloomberg survey.

“Investors are reacting to yesterday’s export sales report,” Joyce Liu, an analyst at Phillip Futures Pte, said by phone from Singapore today. The “figures exceeded expectations by a wide margin, and that will further drain U.S. supplies.”

Soybean futures for March delivery rose 0.2 percent to $14.90 a bushel by 6:39 a.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, heading for a 1 percent gain this week. That would mark a fifth straight weekly advance, the best run since August.

Exporters sold 34.2 million tons of soybeans as of Jan. 31 for delivery in the current marketing year, up from 26.86 million tons at the same time a year earlier, USDA data show. World stockpiles before next year’s Northern Hemisphere harvest may be 59.07 million tons, less than the January forecast at 59.46 million tons, according to the survey.

Chinese Imports

China’s soybean imports, the world’s biggest, rose to 4.78 million tons in January, up 3.8 percent from a year earlier, the customs agency said today. Purchases in February may be 3.11 million tons, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Corn for March delivery fell 0.2 percent to $7.095 a bushel, set for a 3.6 percent loss this week. That puts soybeans, which compete with corn for acreage, at 2.1 times the price of the grain. If prices close at that level, it will be the highest ratio since Oct. 26. The oilseed has traded at an average of 2.4 times the price of corn in the past decade.

Corn futures trading volume was 50 percent higher for the time of day than the average for the past 100 days, figures compiled by Bloomberg showed.

Wheat for March delivery rose 0.3 percent to $7.585 a bushel, headed for a weekly loss of 0.8 percent. In Paris, milling wheat for May delivery rose 0.3 percent to 242 euros ($324) a ton on NYSE Liffe.