China buys 264,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans: USDA

(Reuters) - Private exporters reported the sale of 264,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China for delivery in the 2019/20 marketing year, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Thursday, amid hopes for a partial trade deal between the world’s two largest economies.

FILE PHOTO: A worker looks on as imported soybeans are transported at a port in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China August 6, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer/File Photo

That marked the first U.S. government confirmation of a soybean sale to the top buyer of the oilseed since President Donald Trump said on Oct. 11 that China would buy up to $50 billion in American farm products as part of a trade agreement.[nL2N27126V]

An earlier USDA report showed total U.S. soybean export sales of 475,200 tonnes, including just 68,300 tones to China in the week ended Oct. 17. Analysts’ forecasts for the weekly report had ranged from 800,000 tonnes to 1.6 million tonnes.

A Bloomberg report said China was willing to buy $20 billion of U.S. farm goods in the first year of a trade deal.

Beijing on Tuesday offered major Chinese and international soybean processors waivers that would exempt the companies from steep tariffs on imports of up to 10 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans, according to two people briefed on the matter.

USDA has confirmed sales of about 6 million tonnes of soybeans to China since the marketing year began on Sept. 1. That compares with cancellations of 431,000 tonnes in the comparable period of 2018 and about 8.4 million tonnes in the comparable period of 2017, before the trade war began.

Traders are also closely watching U.S. pork sales to China, where a fatal pig disease had decimated the world’s largest hog herd, raising the need for meat imports.

China’s total purchases of U.S. pork last week were 2,002 tonnes, the smallest in five weeks, according to USDA data. That was down from record-large weekly purchases of 152,599 tonnes reported in the week ended Oct. 10, although USDA said sales from previous weeks may have been included.

Beijing imposed hefty tariffs on imports of U.S. pork as part of the trade war.

In Brazil, Agriculture Minister Tereza Cristina Dias said in a video on Twitter that her country is confident Chinese authorities will authorize more Brazilian meat exporters before Chinese President Xi Jinping visits Brazil next month.

At 10:45 a.m. CDT (1545 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade November soybean futures SX9 were up 2 cents at $9.35-3/4 a bushel. Chicago Mercantile Exchange December lean hogs LHZ9 were down 0.8 cent at 65.025 cents per pound.

Reporting by Mark Weinraub. Additional reporting by Tom Polansek; Editing by David Gregorio