Soybeans were struggling to hold their move over $15 this morning, following mixed news about exports.
March futures rallied above $15 overnight on reports China was turning back to the U.S. for supplies due to delays shipping new crop inventory out of Brazil. Rains have slowed harvest in the country's key center-west region, and the usual backlogs have been complicated by a series of labor problems this week.
USDA today confirmed the sale of one shipment of old crop to China, 2.2 million bushels, but most of the announcement under the agency's daily reporting system for large purchases involved new crop – another 12.9 million bushels.
The daily report came a half-hour after the agency's regular weekly tally showed net cancellations for the latest week of 4.4 million bushels. Officially, the cancellations were allocated to "unknown destinations," but there was suspicion the deals were for China.
Making matters even murkier was that fact the weekly report covered the period when Chinese markets were closed for the Lunar New Year holiday.
Even with the cancellations, today's report shows China has bought or shipped 762 million bushels of 2012 crop soybeans from the U.S. so far. Farm Futures estimates that would account for 92.5% of total Chinese purchases for the year, based on USDA's current forecast for Chinese imports. The agency doesn't forecast imports just from the U.S.
The focus on soybeans overshadowed better news for corn and wheat business that included Chinese purchases of both crops. Net new bookings of wheat hit 27.8 million bushels, up from last week and above the rate forecast for the rest of the marketing year by USDA. Still, shipments remain slow and the pace of deals will have to accelerate to reach USDA's forecast.
Corn business was also better at 15 million bushels. Buyers continue to take only single loads, but the total topped the rate implied by USDA's current forecast for the marketing year. Net sales for the 2012 crop are expected to fall to their lowest level since the export boom began in the 1970s.