Weekly export sales of old-crop soybeans tripled the previous week's business to surprise Chicago traders who responded by bidding futures 1% higher on Thursday.
Corn exports in USDA's weekly export report on Thursday also were better than expected for old-crop supplies, while new-crop business was in line with forecasts. Wheat sales were within expectations.
USDA's weekly report showed export sales of nearly 11.7 million bushels of old-crop soybeans last week, up sharply from the previous week's 3.6 million and raised questions about why prices are not reflecting this demand.
"The news begs the question about where these beans are coming from, and why isn't the market, especially the basis market, more concerned?," said Bryce Knorr, Farm Futures senior grain analyst. "Either the 2013 crop was bigger than expected, or U.S. firms have lined up even more imports than anticipated. The third possibility is that stocks are impossibly tight with 10 more weeks left in the marketing year."
Export sales of old-crop soybeans are 104% of what USDA has forecast. The latest week's sales went to unknown destinations, Mexico, Thailand and others.
The impact of these sales on soybean supplies may be seen on Monday when USDA releases its quarterly grain stocks report. Analysts surveyed by news services expect the report to show June 1 stocks at 334 million to 440 million bushels, with most estimates under 400 million. Stocks a year ago were 435 million.
New-crop soybean export sales at 16.82 million bushels also topped expectations with China the leading buyer taking nearly 9.1 million bushels.
Old-crop corn sales of 12.65 million bushels topped expectations and were nearly triple the previous week's business, with Japan, South Korea, and Vietnam the leading buyers. New-crop sales of 9.14 million matched expectations and were led by Mexico and unknown destinations.
Wheat sales of 13.2 million bushels were down slightly from the previous week, but within expectations. The leading buyers were South Korea, Brazil, and the Philippines.