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Soybeans Gain Most Since Mid-2021 on Supply-Squeeze Surprise

·3 min read
Soybeans Gain Most Since Mid-2021 on Supply-Squeeze Surprise

(Bloomberg) -- Soybean futures climbed 5.4%, the most in more than a year, after a closely watched crop report signaled shockingly tight supplies.

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“Beans stole the show today,” Jake Hanley, senior portfolio strategist at Teucrium Trading, said after the US Department of Agriculture released its latest supply-and-demand estimates. “Current expectations show usage exceeding production for the third crop season in a row.”

Soy and grains are being scrutinized because of their role in the price of food. Inflation has ripped across the globe as Russia’s war with Ukraine strains the supply of key farm commodities and adds pressure on the other major shippers to produce big harvests. Other potential threats loom, including a possible US freight-rail strike later this week.

“It’s obviously a concern, especially in North America at a time when we are beginning to harvest our crops and it’s a very intense shipping period,” USDA chief economist Seth Meyer said in a Bloomberg Television interview on Monday about the labor woes.

Meyer said the possibility of a rail labor stoppage will need to be monitored carefully. Along with producers trying to move their product, a strike would hurt consumers right as the holiday season is approaching. “The most critical element in the recipe is the one that you dont have,” Meyer said.

Read more: Biden Takes Personal Role in Bid to Avert Crippling Rail Strike

The disruption threat comes as the outlook for 2022-23 US soybean output and ending stockpiles fell short of expectations after drought took a toll on the plants, according to the USDA report.

Soybeans are crushed to make cooking oil, fed to animals raised for meat, and also used in baked goods, processed foods and alternative fuels. Tight US supplies will put additional pressure on No. 1 grower Brazil to make up the difference. But the outlook is already clouded by the likelihood of a weather-roiling La Nina extending into next year and potentially making droughts more severe in parts of the South American nation.

Brazil can still rebuild global soybean supplies, Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at US-based StoneX, tweeted on Monday. “But only if it has normal growing weather. What if La Nina challenges its production? That’s what end users have to worry about now.”

Chicago soybeans for November settled the trading day on Monday up 5.4% at $14.8825 a bushel, the biggest increase since late June 2021 and highest price in about 11 weeks.

Corn for December delivery in Chicago closed the day up 1.6% to $6.96 a bushel, the highest level since mid-June, after US yields were trimmed in line with expectations.

The USDA on Monday also released its latest weekly crop condition report that showed both US soybean and corn ratings slightly below expectations.

Benchmark wheat for December remained lower after the USDA report as the USDA’s updated estimates showed the global grain crop getting bigger.

The US raised world wheat production by about 4 million tons, mainly due to bigger Russian and Ukrainian crops. Corn exports were also increased, now standing at about 13 million tons for the 2022-23 season. That shows the progress being made under the Ukraine grain-export corridor, as corn has accounted for about half of the crop tonnage that’s flowed so far.

The war is still taking a significant toll, however, as Ukraine shipped double that amount the prior season.

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