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CBOT rallies into 2019 amid trade optimism, adverse weather

2019-01-06 09:43

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Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) agricultural futures closed sharply higher in the first week of 2019, boosted by dry weather impacting Brazilian crops and news about upcoming trade talks between China and the United States.

For the trading week which ended Jan. 4, the most active corn contract for March delivery was up 7.5 cents weekly, or 2 percent, to 3.83 dollars per bushel. March wheat rose 5.2 cents, or 1.08 percent, to 5.17 dollars per bushel. March soybeans rallied 26 cents, or 2.9 percent, to 9.215 dollars per bushel.

At the end of 2018, Chinese and U.S. heads of state stressed during a telephone conversation the latest progress in trade talks, voicing hope for further results that can bring benefits to both sides and the world.

Entering new year, CBOT agricultural futures, soybeans in particular, were further uplifted by official confirmation that China and the United States would hold vice ministerial level trade consultations on January 7 and 8 in Beijing.

China has been the world's top soybean buyer. Any positive development concerning the trade talks between the two sides will naturally boost U.S. soybean prices.

Adverse weather conditions in South America have also supported CBOT futures, especially soybean and corn prices, as dryness is expected to hit more than a third of Brazil's crop areas this month.

Brazil is another leading soybean grower in the world. As a result of the weather factor, combined with China trade hopes, the U.S. soybean futures posted nearly 3 percent gains this week.

However, a partial shutdown of the U.S. federal government has made it difficult for CBOT traders to follow official export data, as the Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not updated its export sales reports since Dec. 21, 2018. Traders now have to learn from other channels about new overseas purchases of U.S. soybeans and other agricultural commodities.

CBOT wheat, which recorded a 18 percent annul rise in 2018, started the new year further higher, in step with a rally in European market.

World wheat prices have increased amid concerns over declining Argentine grain quality and tightening supplies from Russia and Black Sea area. Following recently reported export sales to Egypt, U.S. wheat might be in a position to take larger market share, with the help of a softer dollar, said analysts.

Along with likely shrinking U.S. winter wheat seeding acres, AgResource, a Chicago-based Agricultural research firm, now maintains a bullish outlook into spring with an initial target of 5.50 dollars per bushel for March delivery.

Meanwhile, the corn market's upside potential is also in focus, said AgResource, given the unfavorable weather conditions in South America.
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