August 8, 2018 / 8:36 AM / 9 days ago

China soybean prices spike as trade war worries feed supply fears

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s soybean and soymeal prices jumped on Wednesday, with beans posting their biggest daily gain in a decade, as data showing a drop in soybean imports stirred supply concerns as a bitter trade dispute between Washington and Beijing plays out.

FILE PHOTO: A man displays imported soybeans at a port in Nantong, Jiangsu province, China April 9, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

Customs data showed arrivals fell in July as processors ended months of buying to build supplies before tariffs took effect.

Beijing hit U.S. shipments of soybeans with a 25 percent tariff on July 6 in retaliation for a similar move by Washington as part of the tit-for-tat trade dispute.

While domestic inventories remain near record highs after crushers built up stockpiles of Brazilian beans ahead of the tariff deadline, analysts said the fall in imports kindled worries about supplies in the fourth quarter when the Brazilian crop is sold out and the next U.S. harvest starts.

The United States is China’s No. 2 supplier of soybeans, which are processed to make cooking oil and animal feed, after Brazil.

“Now we are getting close to the U.S. soybean season, (in September) news like the trade war escalation and falling imports will have a bigger impact on prices,” said Pan Tiantian, analyst with Zheshang Futures.

The most actively traded soybean futures on the Dalian Commodity Exchange (DCE) for January delivery DSAcv1 rallied 3.95 percent to close at 3,789 yuan ($555.93) per tonne on Wednesday, their biggest one-day gain since 2008.

The most active DCE soymeal futures contract for January delivery DSMcv1 closed 2.43 percent higher at 3,289 yuan per tonne after hitting 3,302 yuan earlier in the afternoon, its highest since early April.

The gains came as the United States said on Tuesday that it would begin collecting 25 percent tariffs on another $16 billion worth of Chinese goods on Aug. 23, as it published a final tariff list targeting 279 imported product lines.

Beijing has said previously it will retaliate in kind.

“Money just piled in in the afternoon, betting that the trade war probably would not be resolved and there won’t be enough beans (in the fourth quarter),” said Tian Hao, a senior analyst with First Futures.

($1 = 6.8156 Chinese yuan renminbi)

Reporting by Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason; Editing by Eric Meijer and Christian Schmollinger

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