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Soybean prices have upside on supplies, China, says fund manager

09/09/2013 @ 4:31pm

Soybean prices, already underpinned by tight global supplies and a troubled U.S. crop, could continue to climb as China becomes a more aggressive buyer, said the head of a fund that manages $200 million in commodities.

AIS Group, a Commodity Trade Advisor that manages a total of $400 million, staked out long positions in corn, soybeans and soybean meal in mid-August as futures prices started to jump on crop concerns.

President John Hummel has since backed away from the corn market, which he said is "kind of muddled," but Mr. Hummel sees further upside in soybeans and soybean meal.

While crops will be bigger than a year ago in the U.S., global stockpiles will remain tight as rising incomes in developing economies drive meat consumption, which increases grain demand, said Mr. Hummel, who has maintained a long-term bullish outlook on agricultural commodities.

"I think we continue to be in a global environment where any [crop] disappointment anywhere will continue to create problems," Mr. Hummel said in an interview.

China, whose growth has been central to the commodities boom in recent years, could again be a driving factor in the months ahead, Mr. Hummel said. He said China's current grain stockpiles could be tighter than the government has let on, and he expects it will soon ramp up its imports of corn and soybeans.

Concerns about China's economy, and the potential impact of a downturn on demand, are starting to wane, he added.

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