Bloomberg News

Corn Rises on Improving Overseas Demand for U.S. Crop; Soy Drops

October 20, 2011

Oct. 20 (Bloomberg) -- Corn futures posted their biggest gain in more than a week on signs that last month’s price drop revived demand for supplies from the U.S., the world’s biggest exporter. Soybeans fell for a fourth straight day.

U.S. exporters sold 1.763 million metric tons of corn in the week ended Oct. 13, the most since March, the Department of Agriculture said today in a report. Total sales for delivery before Aug. 31 are 5 percent higher than at the same time last year and are at the highest level in four years. Last week, the USDA forecast a 13 percent drop in this season’s shipments.

The “USDA looks a little too pessimistic on U.S. export sales this year,” Marty Foreman, an economist at Doane Advisory Services Co. in St. Louis, said in a telephone interview. “Export demand is a little stronger than the government expected.”

Corn futures for December delivery rose 1.7 percent to close at $6.495 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the biggest gain since Oct. 11. Prices fell 23 percent in September on concern that the European debt crisis would slow demand for food, animal feed and fuel.

China, the second-biggest consumer after the U.S., was the top buyer of corn last week, taking more than 51 percent of the total, USDA data showed. The sale, which was previously announced by the department last week, pushed China’s cumulative total to 1.923 million tons, up from 313,700 purchased at the same time a year earlier. An additional 4.81 million tons have been sold for delivery before Aug. 31 to unknown destinations.

“The Chinese sales alone argue export sales this year will be higher than the USDA is forecasting,” Foreman said. “There are a lot of unknown sales that may end up shipped to China.”

Soybeans Drop

Soybeans fell after the USDA said U.S. export sales dropped 12 percent to 594,743 tons in the week ended Oct. 13 from a week earlier. Shipments were down 71 percent from a year earlier. Total sales for delivery before Aug. 31 are 29 percent below the pace of last season and are at the lowest level in three years, USDA data show.

Soybean futures for January delivery fell less than 0.1 percent to $12.305 a bushel on the CBOT. The price surged 9.6 percent last week on speculation that China, the largest importer, may boost purchases from the U.S.

Corn is the biggest U.S. crop, valued at $66.7 billion in 2010, followed by soybeans at $38.9 billion, government figures show.

--Editors: Steve Stroth, Millie Munshi

To contact the reporter on this story: Jeff Wilson in Chicago at jwilson29@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net.


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