The US government shutdown risks exaggerating weakness in soybean prices by depriving the market of alerts on the country's exports, which could hit a record in the October-to-December period.
Soybean buyers could use the partial US data shutdown prompted by Washington's closure to ramp up purchases from America "largely unnoticed" by the market, analysis group Oil World said, flagging the return from a week-long holiday of China, the top importer of the oilseed.
"There is a risk that the downtrend of soybean prices is overdone as the potentially bullish US soybean export sales and shipments are not publicised for the time being," German-based Oil World said.
Market rumour actually suggests that China has made a substantial purchase, of 500,000-900,000 tonnes, of corn this week, but with little talk yet of soybean orders.
The comments followed a caution from Jefferies Bache analyst Anne Frick that the void of export sales information "removes a constructive factor from the market".
Grain, oilseed and cotton futures often move to US Department of Agriculture announcements of large orders as released through a daily alerts system, or the weekly round-ups released usually on Thursdays.
The US Department of Agriculture keeps close watch on export sales, a regime reflecting in part the so-called Great Grain Robbery of 1972, when the Soviet Union, unknown to the market, snapped up 24m tonnes of corn, soybeans, soymeal and wheat.
The uncovering of the sales prompted jumps in crop prices, and prompted the US to ban soymeal exports to protect domestic supplies.
'Record US exports ahead'
Oil World in fact expects US soybean exports to hit a record high in the newly-started quarter, potentially hitting 20m tonnes, up from 19.2m tonnes in the same period of 2012, and 14.3m tonnes in the fourth quarter of 2011.
"US soybean exports will have to be stepped up significantly, especially if compared to the preceding seven months, to satisfy world import demand," the group said.
"They will now have to accelerate," after a weak September figure, of 1.14m tonnes, a reflection of the lateness of the US harvest after a rain-delayed spring sowing period, and with weak inventories left over from last year.
Rival exporter Brazil has nearly exhausted its exportable surplus, shipping all but 1.4m tonnes of available supplies of 40.6m tonnes in the first nine months of the year.
Meanwhile, farmers in Argentina have been "reserved" sellers, retaining crops as a hedge against inflation and devaluation in the peso.
Oil World pegged South American soybean exports in the October-to-December period at 3.78m tonnes, above the 2.16m tonnes a year before, but well below the 7.23m tonnes shipped in the last three months of 2011.