China Is Said to Consider Buying Up to 7M Tons of U.S. Wheat

10:13AM Jan 22, 2019

China is buying more U.S. Wheat( Charles Johnson )

(Bloomberg) -- Chinese officials are considering purchasing as much as 7 million tons of U.S. wheat depending on the progress of trade talks, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

China may buy a small amount initially and increase purchases if talks go well, said the people, who asked not to be identified as the information is confidential. Final volumes are subject to change depending on how the trade talks progress, and would be for state reserves, they said. It could buy anything from 3 million to 7 million tons of American wheat, one of the people said.

The wheat purchases, together with other farm products including American soybeans and corn, come as Chinese officials negotiate a deal with the U.S. to reduce its trade surplus which last year stood at $323 billion. China has offered to go on a six-year buying spree to ramp up imports from the U.S. in a move that would reconfigure the relationship between the world’s two largest economies, officials familiar with the negotiations said last week.

China’s 25 percent retaliatory tariffs that were imposed last year on American agricultural products, including soy, corn, wheat, and beef, struck at President Donald Trump’s heartland voters. American farmers were roiled as agriculture shipments to the world’s biggest buyer of commodities plunged, stockpiles accrued across the U.S., and futures dropped.

Bullish Sign?

Nobody replied to a fax sent to China’s commerce ministry. On Tuesday, Chicago wheat futures for March rose as much as 1.6 percent to the highest price since Dec. 20.

While speculation of Chinese buying may be a supportive factor in the market, traders are waiting for confirmation of sales and timing, said Mark Schultz, chief market analyst for Northstar Commodity Investment Co. in Minneapolis.

“It all sounds good but it has to become reality,” Schultz said by telephone. Futures are likely getting more support because importers see U.S. wheat as attractive given its low price compared to other exporters, he said.

Last week, the sentiment among wheat traders who turned bearish on the outlook for the grain for the first time in five weeks. Still, as trade negotiations continue between the two nations, signs are emerging that buyers are willing to dip back into trading with the U.S. again.

American farm cooperative CHS sold U.S. wheat to a private Chinese buyer earlier this month, according to people familiar with the matter. Still, a large-scale resumption of U.S. wheat purchases for state reserves would be a first for China in years. Commercial firms have stopped purchases from the U.S. since June due to the tariffs.

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