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GRAINS-Soybeans firm on China trade hopes, good export sales lift wheat
* Soybeans up on short-covering, hopes for Chinese demand
* Strong export sales propel wheat to 5-1/2 week peak
* All contracts poised for strong weekly gains (Updates throughout with U.S. market open, adds quote, updates prices, changes dateline, previous LONDON)
By Karl Plume
CHICAGO, Dec 7 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures firmed for the fifth time in six sessions on Friday on solid weekly export sales data and short-covering ahead of the weekend as the market waited for signs that China may soon resume purchases from the United States.
Corn also advanced and wheat climbed to a 5-1/2 week high on stronger-than-expected export sales, with additional support stemming from a weakening U.S. dollar.
Grain markets, overall, remain underpinned by hopes that China will soon make large purchases of U.S. agricultural goods following a trade truce between Washington and Beijing last weekend. Expectations for large-scale buying, which the White House said China agreed to, has limited selling interest for much of this week.
Weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture export sales data released on Friday showed sales last week of corn, soybeans and wheat near the high end of trade estimates or above expectations.
The agency also confirmed 224,000 tonnes in additional U.S. wheat sales to undisclosed buyers via USDA's daily export sales reporting system.
"There is some short-covering ahead of the weekend and we had some good export sales for all the crops this morning. Wheat was amplified by another announcement by USDA," said Brian Basting, analyst with Advance Trading.
Chicago Board of Trade January soybeans rose 6-1/2 cents to $9.16 a bushel by 11:22 a.m. CST (1722 GMT), on pace for a weekly gain topping 2 percent, the contract's steepest weekly gain in six weeks.
CBOT March wheat added 15-1/4 cents to $5.30-3/4 a bushel, touching its highest point since Oct. 29. The contract was up nearly 3 percent on the week, which would be its largest rally in four months.
CBOT March corn was up 2-1/4 cents at $3.85 a bushel, poised for a second straight weekly gain of around 2 percent.
Traders continue to monitor news about the arrest of smartphone maker Huawei Technologies' Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, which some fear could harm relations between the United States and China.
She was to appear in a Vancouver court on Friday for a bail hearing as she awaits possible extradition to the United States.
Large production in South America could also help to limit any U.S. sales to China.
Argentina' Rosario Grains Exchange said this week that soybean exports to China could jump to a record 14 million tonnes this season if the trade war between continues.
(Additional reporting by Nigel Hunt in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Tom Hogue, Susan Fenton and Dan Grebler)
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