PRINTABLE VERSION   EMAIL TO A FRIEND   RSS FEEDS 20:38 UK, 18th Dec 2012, by Agrimoney.com
China wash-outs cost soybeans slender grip on $15

Soybeans lost their slender grip on $15 a bushel after farm officials revealed that importers had cancelled 420,000 tonnes of orders from the US, sparking concerns that elevated prices are scaring buyers.

Chinese importers cancelled 300,000 tonnes in orders of US soybeans, with buyers from unknown destinations scrapping purchases of a further 120,000 tonnes, the US Department of Agriculture said.

While no reason was given for the cancellations, they were widely presumed to be motivated by a wish to cash in on prices which remain high by historical perspectives, if well below record top of $17.94 a bushel set in September.

Profit-taking?

"It may be that when the Chinese bought the soybeans, they bought futures to cover themselves," said Don Roose, president of US Commodities.

With the position in profit, "they washed out of the cash and sold the futures".

"It looks like crops are getting bigger in South America. The USDA is expected to add 0.5-1.0 bushel an acre to its estimate for the last US soybean yield in the next Wasde crop report," both factors which suggest lower soybean prices.

"And China has already bought a big percentage of what it needs for this season."

China has purchased more than 18m tonnes of US soybeans alone, in completed exports and outstanding sales, so far in 2012-13.

'Trying to be cute'

However, at Rice Dairy, Jerry Gidel said that there was still reason to think that selling now might not prove a winning bet, given that South American crops are not yet in the bag, and demand is strong both in the US and on export markets.

"I am in the mindset that someone is trying to be cute," Mr Gidel told Agrimoney.com.

"It might work, it might not. But I do not thinks producers are going to pay a lot of attention to this," and expedite sales.

Argentina vs Brazil

The sale came amid mixed news on South American soybeans, with RJ O'Brien describing the Brazilian crop's yield potential as "stable to improving", with a harvest estimate of 82m-83m tonnes, ahead of the USDA's forecast of 81.0m tonnes.

Influential crop scout Michael Cordonnier this week kept his forecast for the crop unchanged at 80m tonnes, but said that the figure "could move higher".

However, Old World on Tuesday cut its forecast for the Argentine crop by 1m tonnes to 53.0m tonnes, warning over the impact of rains on slowing seedings.

"Although soybeans can be planted until January in several areas, and although some of the intended corn area will be switched to soybeans, it is still possible that total soybean plantings will turn out below the intentions of 19.7m hectares," Oil World said.

"Also, later plantings will result in lower yields."

Prices ease

Soybean futures for January, having clambered back above $15 a bushel in early deals, retreated to $14.74 a bushel, a drop of 1.5%, with some half an hour of Chicago trading yet to go.

The better-traded March lot stood 1.3% down at $14.68 a bushel.

The declines also took the contracts below their 50-day moving averages, a negative technical signal.

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