CHICAGO, Jan 4 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures extended a
rally to fresh 6-1/2 year highs on Monday as dry crop weather
and disruptions to exports in South America continued to
unsettle investors at a time of brisk Chinese demand, analysts
But corn and wheat futures were choppy, paring gains after
both commodities surged to six-year highs.
As of 1:06 p.m. CST (1906 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade March
soybeans were up 4 cents at $13.15 per bushel after
surging to $13.49-1/2, the highest price for a most-active
soybean contract on a continuous chart since June 2014.
CBOT benchmark corn was down 1 cent at $4.83 a bushel
after hitting $4.97-3/4, nearing the $5 mark for the first time
since May 2014. CBOT March wheat was up 1 cent at
$6.41-1/2 a bushel.
Life-of-contract highs were set in nearly all CBOT soybean,
corn and wheat futures months.
Grain markets pared gains and turned lower at times as Wall
Street equities sagged, investors booked profits and U.S.
farmers seized the moment to sell some of their last harvest and
portions of the 2021 crop as well.
"It's been a long time since we've seen new-crop (prices)
this high, especially on beans," said Dan Cekander, president of
Uncertainty about soy and corn supplies in Argentina and
Brazil continued to support the market, sending futures sharply
higher in early moves.
"New year, same old issues," Commerzbank said in a note.
"As 2021 begins, it is once again the same concerns about
limited supply from South America and strong Chinese demand that
are driving up soybean and corn prices."
Argentina's announcement last week of a suspension of corn
exports until March, to ensure ample domestic food supply,
deepened uncertainty about South American crops as dry weather
continued to raise doubts over upcoming harvests.
The news came just after a near three-week strike by
Argentina oilseed crushing workers that disrupted supply from
the world's largest exporter of soymeal livestock feed.
Grain markets have been sensitive to any risks over South
American supply as strong Chinese import demand has already
absorbed much available soy and corn on the world market.
These factors helped corn, soybean and wheat futures notch
up double-digit percentage gains over 2020.
(Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen
Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Bernadette Baum and David