China talks leave soy growers anxious and wary

Wisconsin State Farmer
U.S. China trade talks puncture growing optimism of growers and traders.

Soybean prices rallied briefly this week as Chinese and U.S. officials attempted to resolve the ongoing trade war. Traders were initially excited, but ultimately decided that both sides aren’t making significant concessions, leaving beans trapped near $8.90 per bushel.

Normally, China buys nearly one-third of all U.S. soybeans, but tariffs could lead to a record bottleneck of nearly one billion bushels.

Worse yet, South American farmers are planting more soybeans next season on the hopes that they can continue selling to China at a rapid pace.

This means that U.S. soybean prices could stay under pressure long term, even if tariffs with China are removed.

Volatility rocks natural gas

After last week’s flare-up in prices, natural gas continued exploding and reached a four-year high on Wednesday.

Fears of cold weather and smaller supplies sparked the rally, but panic buying drove the market to its top near $4.93 per million British thermal units, a 50% gain in just 8 trading days.

On Thursday, a weekly U.S. government supply estimate showed that inventories continued to climb last week, which sent the market crashing back to earth by over $1.00, the biggest loss in 15 years.

Wild action continued through the end of the week, as gas rebounded by over 20 cents on Friday, leaving traders breathless.In the days ahead, the market will be closely watching weather forecasts; if the cold weather melts away, high natural gas prices could as well.

Breitinger is a commodity futures broker with Paragon Investments in Silver Lake, Kan.