September 13, 2019 / 2:12 PM / 4 days ago

USDA confirms China purchase of 204,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans

(Reuters) - The U.S. Agriculture Department confirmed on Friday that private exporters bought 204,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans destined for China.

The USDA announcement came a day after two traders with knowledge of the deals said that Chinese private buyers have purchased more than 600,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans for shipment from October to December. Those are the largest deals by Chinese private importers in more than a year.

On Thursday, Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures surged 3.3 percent to a one-month high on hopes the deals signify a thaw in the trade war between the world’s two largest economies. The benchmark CBOT November soybean futures contract gained another 3 cents to $8.98-1/2 a bushel in early trading on Friday.

Thursday’s soybean deals were the largest among private Chinese importers since Beijing raised import tariffs by 25% on U.S. soybeans in July 2018 in retaliation for U.S. duties on Chinese goods. Duties were raised an additional 5% this month.

The deals were seen as part of conciliatory gestures the two sides have been making ahead of trade talks, lowering the temperature between them and cheering investors.

China will exempt some agricultural products including soybeans and pork from additional tariffs on U.S. goods, China’s official Xinhua News Agency said Friday.

U.S. President Donald Trump has delayed a tariff increase on certain Chinese goods.

Lower-level U.S. and Chinese officials are expected to meet next week in Washington ahead of talks between senior trade negotiators in early October. Top-level negotiators last met face-to-face in China in July.

Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by David Gregorio

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