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China buys U.S. soybeans a day after trade talks – traders

(Reuters) – Chinese state-owned firms bought at least 1 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans on Friday a day after high-level talks between Washington and Beijing yielded progress toward a trade deal and a Chinese commitment to buy more U.S. soybeans.

The soybean purchases are slated for shipment between April and July, with a large share of the shipments expected from U.S. Gulf Coast export terminals, three traders with knowledge of the deals said.

One trader with direct knowledge of the deals said total purchases were around 2.2 million tonnes. The other two traders said the sales were similar to three recent waves of buying in which state-owned firms booked 1 million to 1.5 million tonnes of soybeans.

U.S. soybean exports to China, the world’s top buyer, have plummeted this season during a bitter trade dispute, with swelling supplies sending prices to near decade lows and U.S. farmers struggling to turn a profit.

Benchmark Chicago Board of Trade March futures climbed as high as $9.31-1/4 a bushel on Friday, the highest point for a most actively traded soy contract since mid-June. Beijing slapped steep tariffs on U.S. soybeans on July 6, effectively halting all U.S. shipments to their top customer.

Before Friday’s sales, China has previously booked an estimated 5 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans in three waves of purchases since U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping agreed to a trade war detente on Dec. 1.

After high-level trade talks in Washington this week, Chinese Vice Premier Liu He announced on Thursday China would buy an additional 5 million tonnes.

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