Crop traders extend bull run as rain comes too late

China Sales

The USDA announced daily export sales of soybeans to China exceeding 100,000 metric tons twice in the past two weeks. In the six weeks through Aug. 23, U.S. exporters sold 3.719 million tons for delivery in the current and upcoming marketing years, 12 percent more than in the same period a year earlier, USDA data show. Corn sales totaled 1.877 million tons, 49 percent less than a year earlier.

Costlier crops may curb demand from biofuel producers. U.S. ethanol output slid 11 percent since June 8 and in the week through July 20 reached the lowest level since the Energy Department began tracking weekly data in 2010. Producers are losing about 36 cents on each gallon of ethanol, based on fuel and corn contracts for September, data compiled by Bloomberg show. More U.S. corn went to ethanol refineries than into livestock feed in 2010-11 for the first time ever.

Cattle Slaughter

The jump in feed prices may spur livestock farmers to slaughter more animals. The domestic beef herd across ranches, feedlots and dairies dropped on July 1 to the smallest since at least 1973, USDA data show. Cattle spend 12 to 18 months eating grass before going to feedlots, where they consume mostly corn for five months until they are fat enough for slaughter.

The U.S. corn harvest is proceeding at the fastest pace ever because farmers planted early and the drought accelerated crop maturity, USDA data show. About 6 percent of corn was harvested as of Aug. 26, compared with none a year earlier. About 8 percent of soybean plants were dropping leaves, a sign of maturity, according to the USDA.

In other commodities, four of 10 traders and analysts surveyed by Bloomberg expect raw sugar to gain next week and the same amount were bearish. The commodity slipped 15 percent this year to 19.8 cents a pound on ICE Futures U.S. in New York.

Eleven people surveyed said copper will rise next week and eight predicted a drop, while eight were neutral. The metal for delivery in three months, the London Metal Exchange’s benchmark contract, dropped 0.1 percent to $7,592 a ton this year.

Comex Bourse

Twelve of 31 traders and analysts surveyed said gold would rise next week, 11 were bearish and eight were neutral. Futures on the Comex exchange in New York added 7.4 percent since the start of January to $1,682.90 an ounce.

Holdings in exchange-traded products backed by the metal jumped to a record 2,460.5 tons by Aug. 29, overtaking France and Italy in the past two weeks to become the world’s third- largest hoard when compared with national reserves, data compiled by Bloomberg and the International Monetary Fund show.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke told central bankers and economists meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyoming today, that more bond purchases are an option as central bankers weigh further steps to boost the economy. Fed policy makers next meet Sept. 12-13.

The S&P GSCI gauge of raw materials entered a bull market on Aug. 21, climbing more than 20 percent from this year’s lowest close on June 21.

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