U.S. soybean futures edged higher on Thursday, shaking off early losses tied to profit-taking, after the U.S. Federal Reserve announced an aggressive new economic stimulus program.
Soybeans added to Wednesday's gains, when the market notched its biggest one-day rally in almost two weeks after the U.S. Department of Agriculture issued a tighter-than-expected supply outlook.
At Thursday's close soybeans were down almost three per cent from the record high set last week.
The Fed's move also supported corn and wheat futures, which traded higher throughout the day. Corn futures were recovering from a two-month low set on Wednesday after USDA reported a larger-than-expected harvest forecast.
U.S. stocks added to gains on the Fed's move, while the dollar fell broadly, oil prices rose and gold hit a six-month high.
"I certainly think the Fed decision and the rising stock market helped the grains out," said Brian Hoops, president of Midwest Market Solutions.
Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) new-crop November soy closed up 0.1 per cent to $17.47-1/4 a bushel (all figures US$).
December wheat rose 1.4 per cent to $9.02 a bushel, and December corn was 0.6 per cent higher at $7.73-3/4 a bushel.
Digesting USDA data
The closely watched USDA crop report on Wednesday gave an updated view on how the worst drought in the United States in more than half a century hurt Midwest crops.
USDA estimated this year's U.S. soybean harvest at 2.634 billion bushels, down from last month's estimate of 2.692 billion and below analysts' average estimate of 2.657 billion.
Ending soybean stocks next summer were forecast to be the lowest in nine years at 115 million bushels, unchanged from the August estimate.
The U.S. corn harvest was forecast at 10.727 billion bushels, down slightly from last month's estimate of 10.779 billion but above analysts' average estimate of 10.38 billion.
It would be the smallest corn crop in six years, and the lowest yield in 17 years at 122.8 bushels per acre.
Hoops predicted corn and soybean futures would extend gains on Friday due to supply fears.
Wheat for Egypt
Egypt, the world's top importer of the grain, bought 235,000 tonnes of Russian, French and Ukrainian wheat for Nov. 21-30 shipment. Egypt initially said it had bought 120,000 tonnes, but later revised to the deal to 235,000.
It was the seventh tender in about a month by Egypt, which has been snapping up supplies as a drought reduces the Russian harvest and dry weather trims the crop in Australia.
"The Egyptian purchase underlined the export shift to France as Russian supplies are selling out," a German trader said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich on Thursday accused speculators of spreading false rumours that the country would ban grain exports this year. He repeated a promise that Moscow would not impose export restrictions.
Russia roiled global grain markets in 2010 when it suspended wheat exports due to a savage drought.
Syria's state-run General Establishment for Cereal Processing and Trade also entered the market, buying 50,000 tonnes of Russian or Ukrainian wheat in a tender. An official said Syria will soon issue a tender for 100,000 tonnes of wheat.
-- Tom Polansek reports on the agriculture sector from Chicago for Reuters. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.