S. African Soybeans Gain to Four-Week High as U.S. Price Climbs

South African soybean futures advanced to a four-week high after prices in the U.S., the world’s biggest producer, rose after a bulk purchase by China, the largest soybean importer.

Soybeans for delivery in July, the most active contract, surged 1.1 percent to 4,765 rand ($508) a metric ton by the close in Johannesburg today. The grain has climbed 3.4 percent this week, the biggest increase on that basis since the five days through April 19.

China purchased 79 percent of 346,634 tons in the week ended May 9 for delivery in the year beginning Sept. 1, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. That takes total sales for the next marketing year to 8.86 million tons before most farmers even planted their crops, USDA data show. Soybeans climbed to the highest since March 27 in Chicago yesterday.

“Soybean prices went up quite a lot following gains in Chicago, which came about because of tighter supply in the U.S.,” Benjamin Swanepoel, a trader at Trademar Futures (Pty) Ltd., said by phone in Johannesburg.

White corn for delivery in July, the most active contract, gained 0.2 percent to 2,181 rand a ton after the rand declined to a four-year low against the dollar, making the price of locally produced varieties more attractive than imports for South African buyers.

The currency extended its longest losing streak in a year after renewed labor unrest and falling commodity prices raised concern over South Africa’s economy.

“The main thing that supported local corn prices on the market is rand weakness,” Swanepoel said.

South Africa is the continent’s biggest producer of corn. The white grain is a staple food in the country, while the yellow variety is mainly used as animal feed.

Yellow corn due for delivery in July, the most active contract, fell by 0.2 percent to 2,162 rand.

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