U.S. soybeans stay firm on Chinese demand, slower planting

Soybeans add to Tuesday rally as China sales boost export hopes


PARIS/SINGAPORE- Chicago soybean futures edged up on Wednesday to reach a two-week high, supported by fresh Chinese demand for U.S. supplies and a slower than expected Midwest planting.

Corn ticked higher but held below Wednesday's one-week peak as the prospect of massive U.S. plantings and reduced biofuel demand due to the coronavirus crisis hung over the market.

Renewed political tensions between Washington and Beijing, this time over China's proposed security law in Hong Kong, helped limit gains in crop markets.

Wheat also rose slightly as traders weighed improved U.S. crop ratings against mixed conditions in Europe following a dry start to spring.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade Sv1 was up 0.4% at $8.50-1/4 a bushel by 1050 GMT, after earlier touching a two-week high of $8.50-3/4.

"News that China has ordered further shipments of U.S. soybeans ... was met with relief," Commerzbank said.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported on Tuesday export sales of 258,000 tonnes of soybeans for China, fuelling a sharp rise in soybean futures.

The announcement eased concern that friction between Washington and Beijing over the novel coronavirus pandemic would curb shipments expected under a trade agreement.

But the U.S. government's warning of a strong response to China's proposed security law in Hong Kong raised investor fears of a fresh clash. 

CBOT corn was up 0.4% at $3.20-1/4 a bushel.

The USDA said farmers had planted 88% of their intended corn acres as of Sunday, below analysts' average estimate of 90% in a Reuters poll.

It also said farmers had planted 65% of their intended soybean acreage, lagging an average poll estimate of 69%.

"There is a bit of support for corn but we don't see U.S. planting delays a very big deal as of now," said one Singapore-based feed grains trader.

CBOT wheat added 0.7% to $5.10-1/4 a bushel.

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Himani Sarkar, Kirsten Donovan) ((gus.trompiz@thomsonreuters.com; +33 1 49 49 52 18; Reuters Messaging: gus.trompiz.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))

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