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USDA Confirms U.S. Soybean Sales for Delivery to China

By Julie Ingwersen

Dec 13 (Reuters) - Private exporters have sold 1.13 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans for delivery to China, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Thursday, confirming sales Reuters reported a day earlier, though soy futures fell as traders hoped for more deals.

Traders said on Wednesday that China, the world’s top soybean importer, had booked its first significant U.S. soybean purchases in more than six months after a trade truce was reached on December 1.

The sales came after U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s President Xi Jinping agreed to a 90-day detente in their tit-for-tat tariff war to negotiate a trade deal after meeting at the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires.

Trump told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday the Chinese were already buying a “tremendous amount” of U.S. soybeans and would also soon cut tariffs on U.S. autos. But it was unclear how many soybeans China would actually buy, with tariffs still in place and a record Brazilian crop nearly ready for harvest.

China last year purchased about 60% of U.S. soybean exports in deals valued at more than $12 billion. The purchases confirmed on Monday were less than $500 million.

“There was talk we’d see like 5 million tonnes over the next few days, so we will need some follow-through buying from China, especially outside of Sino,” one U.S. trader said, referring to China’s state-run buyer Sinograin.

China dropped out of the U.S. market after Beijing slapped tariffs on U.S. shipments on July 6 in retaliation for American duties on Chinese goods. U.S. exports to China dropped to 8.2 million tonnes in the first 10 months of the year, down from 21.4 million in the same period last year, according to government figures.

With exports to China drying up, U.S. soybean prices tumbled to their lowest levels in a decade. They rose to their highest since midsummer on Wednesday, but January futures were down 12¢ at $9.08 a bushel on Thursday.

The White House this week delayed additional payments from a $12 billion aid package for farmers stung by the trade war because it expected Beijing to resume buying U.S. soybeans.

(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; writing by Caroline Stauffer; editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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