Chicago soybean futures edged up on Monday as investors saw signs of thawing relations between Washington, D.C., and Beijing in the trade dispute that has disrupted flows of the most valuable U.S. agricultural export to China.
Soybeans were poised to end 2018 with an annual decline after the plunge in exports to China coupled with big harvests in the United States and Brazil weighed on prices.
A resumption in Chinese imports of U.S. soybeans in December as part of a negotiated truce between the world’s two largest economies has helped Chicago prices rebound from a decade low in September.
Wheat, in contrast, was set to notch up its biggest annual rise since 2012 after a sharp fall in production in major exporters Russia, the European Union and Australia, making it one of the biggest gainers in commodity markets this year.
Corn also rose in 2018 as tightening wheat supply fueled additional demand from livestock feed makers, offsetting concerns about disruption to U.S. shipments to China.
Prices on Monday were supported by what President Donald Trump described as a “very good call” with China’s President Xi Jinping.
“Soybeans are in the front line in the trade war, so they’re getting a lift today,” one European trader said.
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Washington and Beijing already plan trade consultations in January, and China also has opened the door to rice imports from the United States for the first time ever.
Tit-for-tat tariffs in the U.S.-China trade dispute choked exports of U.S. soybeans before a series of purchases the month just ended following a Dec. 1 truce agreed by Trump and Xi. However, traders remain cautious about the scale of Chinese buying and a partial shutdown of the U.S. government has added to uncertainty by leading to the postponement of daily and weekly export sales reports from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.