Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soybean futures rose two per cent on Thursday, the biggest one-day advance in a month, on technical buying, tight stocks in the United States and on difficulty shipping soy from top global soy producer Brazil.
A spate of speculative and cash-connected buying drove active spot May soy through chart resistance at its 50-, 100- and 200-day moving averages, triggering buy-stops and driving the contract to a session high of $14.51-1/2, a one-week peak (all figures US$).
The 200-day moving average of $14.41-1/4 is now seen as a key chart support level.
Chart-based traders said the soybean market was likely to remain rangebound from $14 on the low side to $15 at the top.
Profit-taking and a tepid week of export sales of U.S. product turned wheat weak while corn turned firm on spillover buying from soybeans, which bucked the trend and soared two per cent, the biggest one-day gain since Feb. 19.
"We saw export sales for old-crop soybeans this morning that were a little light but we're still way ahead of goals so we're not seeing any rationing of demand," said Karl Setzer, analyst for Max Yield Cooperative.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) weekly export sales report on Thursday showed U.S. net export sales of soybeans last week at 107,800 tonnes, below estimates for 300,000 to 600,000 tonnes. Sales of new-crop soybeans totaled 234,100 tonnes, within estimates for 150,000 to 400,000 tonnes.
Net soybean sales fell for a second straight week and were a four-week low, with shipments the lowest since early September as demand began shifting to South America.
"There also was news that Brazil is not going to allow China to roll out of contracts. Since Brazil won't allow that to happen, those soybeans now may move out of the United States to cover the contracts," Setzer said.
There were reports early in the week that China, the world's largest soy buyer, had cancelled orders for two million tonnes of soybeans from Brazil because of port congestion and on Thursday there were reports China would release soy from state-owned reserves due to tight stocks of soybeans in China.
"The cash market is leading soybean futures higher and we're now starting to see a push for acres as planting season nears," Setzer said.
CBOT wheat turned down on profit-taking following two days of advances and corn rose to a six-week peak on support from the soybean rally.
Corn spot cash basis bids fell sharply at U.S. Midwest processors, elevators and ethanol plants on Thursday following a spike in farmer sales and deliveries in recent days tied to the futures market rally, grain buyers said.
CBOT May soybeans were up 29-1/4 cents per bushel at $14.49/bu., May wheat was down 7-1/4 cents at $7.28-3/4 and May corn was up 1/2 cent at $7.33/bu.
"I think corn and wheat are taking a breather," said Ken Smithmier, analyst at The Hightower Report in Chicago.
CBOT May wheat which peaked at $7.36-1/2 early in the session, failed to break through a key technical resistance point at its 40-day moving average of $7.36-7/8, triggering some sales.
Traders also noted some positioning ahead of the upcoming U.S. Agriculture Department prospective plantings report next week, which will forecast U.S. acreage for corn and soybeans.
Gains in soybeans were limited by China's decision to sell between one million and 1.5 million tonnes of soy from state reserves to crushers to ease tight supply after port congestion in Brazil interrupted shipments to the world's top importer of the oilseed.
The move will cool import demand from the world's top buyer of the oilseed, which has said it will cancel up to two million tonnes of Brazilian soybean cargoes due to the delays.
USDA on Thursday reported corn export sales were 92,200 for old-crop supplies and 183,300 tonnes for new-crop, a two-week low but in line with low market expectations. Total wheat sales were the lowest in three weeks.
Old-crop wheat export sales of 484,500 tonnes were near the low end of analysts' forecasts while new-crop wheat export sales of 88,800 tonnes fell below expectations for 100,000 to 320,000 tonnes.
-- Sam Nelson reports on the CBOT markets for Reuters from Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Mark Weinraub, Karl Plume and Michael Hirtzer in Chicago.