January 14, 2019 / 3:27 AM / 3 months ago

GRAINS-Soybeans ease as China's imports drop; wheat snaps 2-day rally

    * Chicago soybeans drop after closing higher on Friday
    * China's soybean imports drop in 2018 for first time since
    * Wheat eases after gains, prices supported by demand hopes 

 (Adds details, quote)
    By Naveen Thukral
    SINGAPORE, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures lost
ground on Monday as imports by the world's biggest buyer China
dropped for the first time since 2011, following a trade war
between Washington and Beijing. 
    Wheat slid after two days of gains which were driven by
expectations of increased demand for U.S. supplies due to
shortage in rival exporters Russia and Ukraine.
    The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board Of
Trade fell 0.3 percent at $9.07-3/4 a bushel as of 0310
GMT, having firmed 0.4 percent on Friday.
    Wheat was down 0.3 percent at $5.18 a bushel, while
corn unchanged at $3.78-1/4 a bushel.
    China's 2018 soybean imports fell by 7.9 percent from a year
earlier to 88.03 million tonnes, the General Administration of
Customs said on Monday.
    That was the first annual drop since 2011, according to
Reuters records. China's December soybean imports at 5.72
million tonnes, according to Reuters calculations, are the
lowest December total since 2011.
    "China isn't buying U.S. beans, despite expectations that
they would eventually need to tap the U.S. market," said Phin
Ziebell, agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank.
    The top soy importer has booked an estimated 5 million
tonnes of U.S. soybeans over the past month, but no further
deals have been reported. 
    U.S. officials expect China's top trade negotiator may visit
Washington this month, signalling that higher-level discussions
are likely to follow last week's talks with mid-level officials
in Beijing as the world's two largest economies try to hammer
out a deal to end a tit-for-tat tariff war.
    Agricultural consultancy Safras & Mercado on Friday slashed
its forecast for Brazil's 2018/19 soybean crop by 6.5 million
tonnes to 115.72 million tonnes, citing a prolonged dry spell in
southern parts of the country.
    Expectations that thinning supplies in Russia would raise
export opportunities for U.S. wheat underpinned prices.
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture would have normally
published a fresh crop forecast on Friday but updates have been
postponed indefinitely due to the government shutdown.

 Grains prices at  0310 GMT
 Contract    Last    Change  Pct chg  Two-day chg  MA 30   RSI
 CBOT wheat  518.00  -1.50   -0.29%   +0.83%       519.53  55
 CBOT corn   378.25  0.00    +0.00%   +0.53%       380.55  50
 CBOT soy    907.75  -2.50   -0.27%   +0.11%       912.96  51
 CBOT rice   10.75   -$0.02  -0.19%   -0.92%       $10.65  59
 WTI crude   51.30   -$0.29  -0.56%   -2.45%       $49.28  
 Euro/dlr    $1.147  $0.000  -0.01%   -0.28%               
 USD/AUD     0.7186  -0.003  -0.40%   +0.01%               
 Most active contracts
 Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel. Rice: USD per
 RSI 14, exponential

 (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Rashmi Aich)
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