NAPERVILLE, Illinois, May 21 (Reuters) - Speculators have been heavier sellers of Chicago-traded soybeans in recent weeks, and although they retained bullish bets through last Tuesday, late-week liquidation could have funds short in real time.
In the week ended May 16, money managers slashed their net long position in CBOT soybean futures and options to 23,942 contracts from 48,459 a week earlier, establishing their least bullish stance since November 2021.
Most-active CBOT soybean futures shed 3.6% through May 16, and funds added gross shorts for a sixth consecutive week. The U.S. government has projected a record domestic soy harvest in 2023 and top exporter Brazil just collected its record crop, padding global supply prospects.
Soybean futures fell more than 4% in the last three sessions, bottoming Friday at $13.04-3/4 per bushel, their lowest since last July. November soybeans on Wednesday traded below $12 per bushel for the first time since 2021.
That could mean money managers at Friday's close were net short soybean futures and options for the first time since April 2020. They have not held a net short for two or more consecutive weeks since March 2020.
Money managers' all-time soybean net short of 168,835 futures and options contracts was set on May 14, 2019.
Most-active CBOT soybean meal rose nearly 2% in the week ended May 16, though money managers bought much more aggressively than expected. They added more than 18,000 contracts to their net long, which jumped to 80,287 futures and options contracts.
Soybean oil futures plunged more than 10% through May 16, and money managers increased their net short to 36,381 futures and options contracts from 13,484 a week earlier, their biggest round of net selling since early December.
The new managed money soyoil short was the largest since August 2019, and new shorts featured more heavily in the latest move. Funds were last short soymeal in early November 2021.
Most-active soymeal fell more than 4% in the last three sessions, and Friday's low of $408.60 per short ton was the lowest since Nov. 30, 2022. Soyoil slid fractionally over the three sessions but had touched 45.75 cents per pound Wednesday, the most-active contract's lowest since Feb. 12, 2021.
Speculators were net buyers of CBOT corn, wheat, Minneapolis and Kansas City wheat in the week ended May 16, but heavy selling was a feature across all four in the days after.
Most-active corn slid fractionally and December futures were down 2.5% during the week, though money managers reduced their net short to 91,985 futures and options contracts from 109,643 a week earlier, primarily on new longs.
CBOT wheat futures drifted higher during the period, and money managers trimmed their net short by more than 4,000 contracts to 112,769 futures and options contracts, the most bearish for the date since 2017.
July K.C. and Minneapolis futures both notched decent gains in the week ended May 16. The managed money net long in K.C. futures and options reached a six-month high of 16,593 contracts, up more than 9,000 on the week. Short covering has dominated over the past two weeks.
Money managers remained bearish Minneapolis wheat last week, though they were net buyers for the first time in six weeks, cutting their net short by nearly 3,500 to 4,838 futures and options contracts.
CBOT wheat futures had been rallying mid-month due to uncertainty over the Black Sea grain deal, though Russia on Wednesday agreed to a two-month extension, allowing Ukraine to continue exports by sea.
K.C. wheat found strength from a worse-than-expected U.S. winter wheat crop, and planting delays in North Dakota have been friendly for Minneapolis wheat. But all three wheat flavors faced pressure late last week.
July CBOT wheat fell 6.6% between Wednesday and Friday, and Friday's low of $6.02 per bushel is the most-active contract's lowest since April 1, 2021. July K.C. wheat shed nearly 8% and Minneapolis lost 8.5% over the last three sessions.
July corn was down 4.6% during that time frame, on Thursday touching $5.47 per bushel, the most-active contract's lowest since Oct. 27, 2021. December corn on Wednesday traded below $5 for the first time since 2021 as U.S. farmers are sowing their crops efficiently.
Karen Braun is a market analyst for Reuters. Views expressed above are her own.
Editing by Richard Chang
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As a columnist for Reuters, Karen focuses on all aspects of the global agriculture markets with a primary focus in grains and oilseeds. Karen comes from a strong science background and has a passion for data, statistics, and charts, and she uses them to add context to whatever hot topic is driving the markets. Karen holds degrees in meteorology and sometimes features that expertise in her columns. Follow her on Twitter @kannbwx for her market insights.