The price of US soyabeans has fallen back to its level before the trade truce between US president Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, as traders expressed disappointment with the volume of purchases from China.
CBOT January soyabean futures closed at $8.935 a bushel on Thursday, down 0.7 per cent and the lowest for a near-month contract since November 29.
Mr Trump and Mr Xi Jinping agreed to halt an escalation of their months-long trade dispute at a steak dinner in Buenos Aires on December 1, when Beijing committed to import more US agricultural products, despite having targeted them with tariffs.
Mr Trump on Thursday reiterated that Mr Xi had agreed to buy “tremendous amounts of farm products, in particular soyabeans”.
Earlier this month Chinese importers made their first purchases of US soyabeans since July, and they have now purchased about 2.8m tonnes of the commodity, data from the US Department of Agriculture show.
At this point a year ago, the US had already exported 18m tonnes of soyabeans to China, with another 5.1m tonnes of sales outstanding.
“The market is disappointed with these purchases. Maybe it was too optimistic to start with,” said Michael Cordonnier, president of Soybean & Corn Advisor, a consultancy based in Illinois.
“When you look at it, the amount of soyabeans that China has bought so far has been, I think, smaller than the trade was looking for,” said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based US Commodities, a grain and livestock broker.
China is the world’s largest soyabean consumer and depends on imports to feed its vast pig and poultry farms. It has historically relied on both the US and Brazil for most of its foreign supplies.
The grain markets have been monitoring whether China would be able to satisfy its needs without returning to the US market. Brazil is on the verge of harvesting a record crop of about 122m tonnes and should be exporting its first cargoes by the middle of January — about two weeks earlier than usual, according to Mr Cordonnier.
“We’ve got huge competition from South America ahead,” Mr Roose said.
Soyabean prices have received further pressure from falling oil markets, as the price of crude reduces the value of diesel, an alternative fuel to soyabean oil-based biodiesel, Mr Roose said.
The price of US soyabeans was above $10 a bushel before China raised tariffs on them in July. The Trump administration this week announced a second round of payments to farmers suffering losses because of the trade war.
Soyabean farmers would receive $1.65 per bushel from the federal government, the total of the first and second payments. The outlay would cost an estimated $7.3bn, the USDA said.