May 27 (Reuters) - Two bulk shipments of Brazilian soybeans arrived at the U.S. ports of Wilmington, North Carolina, and Norfolk, Virginia, over the weekend, the first large South American shipments to hit the U.S. East Coast this season, Reuters shipping data showed.
They were the latest shipments since two cargoes arrived at the U.S. Gulf Coast early last month, starting the country’s biggest wave of soy imports in history, with about 2 million tonnes expected to reach U.S. shores over the next two months.
The United States, the world’s biggest soybean producer and second largest exporter, is expected to import a record 2.45 million tonnes of soybeans in the year ended Aug. 31 to alleviate the tightest supplies in a decade, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Maia, which was loaded with 66,000 tonnes of soybeans at Brazil’s Sao Francisco do Sul port in early May, reached Wilmington on Saturday. The smaller CS Chara, loaded with 30,000 tonnes at Vila do Conde port in northern Brazil in mid-May, arrived in Norfolk late on Sunday.
(Vessel map: link.reuters.com/cuk69v)
About 130,000 tonnes in two shipments were unloaded by a Bunge North America terminal along the Mississippi River in the first half of April.
At least seven shipments containing roughly 342,000 tonnes more are either currently loading, waiting to load or sailing for U.S. shores, shipping data showed.
Further cargoes are already sold for June and July loading, according to traders.
The traders could not confirm widespread rumors on Tuesday that two cargoes initially sold to China were canceled and at least five were being resold due to Chinese financing problems tied to poor crush margins.
“Chinese crush margins improved a little bit but they are still very negative in old-crop positions,” said Dan Basse, president of Chicago-based consultancy AgResource Co.
“Last week we started to hear that seven or eight cargoes were being held up for LC (letter of credit) problems. Now we hear that two have been washed out and there’s another five being reoffered into the market and there may be more working.”
Importers in China defaulted on at least 500,000 tonnes of soybean cargoes last month, the most in a decade, amid poor processing margins and abundant stocks at ports. Although pork and poultry prices are now rising, suggesting better feed demand, the unprofitable crushing margins could linger for months.
Benchmark Chicago Board of Trade July soybean futures tumbled 26-3/4 cents on Tuesday to $14.88-3/4 a bushel. The 1.9 percent decline was the steepest in nearly a month. (Reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago; Editing by David Gregorio)