CANBERRA: Chicago soybeans and corn futures edged higher on Monday, but remained near three-year lows as the U.S. government raised its estimates for inventories and speculators bet on further price drop amid plentiful global supply.
Wheat edged lower as cheap shipments from the Black Sea region continued to pressure prices.
* The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was up 0.3% at $11.87-1/2 a bushel by 0157 GMT and CBOT corn edged 0.2% higher to $4.29-3/4 a bushel, while wheat dipped 0.1% to $5.96 a bushel.
* Beans and corn fell last week to their lowest levels since December 2020, with soybeans at $11.79 and corn at $4.28-1/4. Wheat is holding some distance above a three-year low of $5.40 reached last September.
* Trade was subdued as markets in China, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam and Malaysia were closed for a public holiday on Monday.
* The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), Brazilian crop agency Conab and two private forecasters cut their estimates for the 2023/24 soybean harvest Brazil, the world's biggest soybean producer.
* Still, the USDA has significantly raised its estimates for Brazil's last harvest.
* Plentiful supply of Brazilian beans has shrivelled U.S. soybean exports this year and pressured Chicago prices.
* The USDA raised its estimate for U.S. soybean ending stocks for 2023/24 to 315 million bushels, up from 280 million in January and above analysts' estimates for 284 million.
* Speculator's net short position in Chicago soybeans crept closer to all-time records last week, with funds selling soy again on Friday, traders said.
* For corn, the USDA and Conab cut their estimates for Brazil's crop but the USDA raised its forecast for U.S. 2023/24 corn ending stocks by more than most analysts expected to 2.172 billion bushels.
* Speculators also hold their biggest net short position in corn for years.
* Elsewhere, Ukraine expects its 2024 spring sowing area to be the same as last year, its agriculture minister said.
* More ships carrying grain were diverted from the Suez Canal to sailings around the Cape of Good Hope last week as concern about attacks on vessels in the Red Sea continued, shipping analysts said.
* Polish politicians called on the EU Commissioner for Agriculture to quit amid protests against EU policies.
Global equities rose on Friday, with the S&P 500 crossing the 5,000-point milestone for the first time ever as U.S. inflation data raised expectations of an interest rate cut this year.
(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)