CBOT soybeans end 2020 at 6-1/2 year high, post biggest annual gain since 2007

CHICAGO, Dec 31 (Reuters) - Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures rallied to a new 6-1/2-year high on Thursday on worries about tightening global supplies and a crop-stressing drought in South America, lifting futures to their strongest annual gains since 2007.

* Hot and largely dry weather is expected in Argentina and southern Brazil over the next two weeks, according to meteorologists. The stressful weather comes after a dry start to the season in key South American production areas.

* The benchmark CBOT March soybean futures contract settled 10-1/2 cents higher at $13.11 per bushel, the highest for the most-active contract since June 23, 2014.

* Soybeans ended up 3.7% on the week, up 12.2% for the month and up 37.2% for the year. The annual gain was the strongest since 2007.

* CBOT March soymeal ended $1.60 higher at $429.40 per short ton, while March soyoil gained 0.54 cent to 42.40 cents per lb.

* New life-of-contract highs were posted in all soybean and soyoil contracts and most soymeal contracts.

* The U.S. Department of Agriculture said exporters sold 695,400 tonnes of U.S. soybeans last week for shipment in the 2020/21 season, near the high end of trade expectations that ranged from 200,000 to 700,000 tonnes. Sales for 2021/21 shipment topped expectations at 315,800 tonnes.

* Chinese soymeal futures hit their highest levels on record on the last day of 2020, buoyed by strong international soybean prices and investor bets on robust demand from the livestock sector.

(Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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