SINGAPORE: US soybeans recouped early losses on Friday and were on track for a second week of gains on worries about delays in the shipment of South American crops to buyers, with sentiment also underpinned by recent purchases from China.
The US grains complex has been buoyed by demand for exports and lengthy vessel loading delays in Brazil, which has prompted China to cancel soy cargoes ordered from Brazil and buy from the United States instead.
Wheat firmed on bargain hunting, having fallen 9.2 percent in February, its biggest drop since September 2011, while corn edged up on tight supply in the cash market and was on track for its best week since July.
But soybeans could face stiff resistance at $15 a bushel after disappointing Chinese factory data suggested that China's economy recovery remained patchy. CBOT May contract was little changed at $14.53-1/2 a bushel by 0308 GMT, recovering from a low of $14.45-1/4.
"China's PMI data is disappointing, so for the day ahead I would see that the price may be due for some correction," said Ker Chung Yang, senior investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.
"China is the world's largest soybean consumer, so further signs of an economic slowdown are going to dampen the demand for the commodity."
Growth in Chinese factories cooled in February to a five-month low after domestic and foreign demand slackened, an official government survey showed on Friday, missing market forecasts.
Some economists attributed the pullback in data to distortions arising from the Lunar New Year holiday which fell in February, even though the statistics agency says the PMI has been seasonally adjusted
CBOT May corn was up 0.28 percent at $7.05-1/2 a bushel, while CBOT May wheat gained 0.80 percent to $7.20-1/4 a bushel.
The US Department of Agriculture said weekly export sales of soybeans were 1.171 million tonnes, including 689,000 tonnes of old-crop supplies. Analysts were expecting soybean export sales in a range from 750,000 to 1 million tonnes. China accounted for 70 percent of the weekly sales.
In the physical market, Thailand bought 30,000 tonnes of Indian feed wheat for May shipment this week, Malaysian feed millers took 60,000 tonnes of corn for arrival in April and Japan bought a cargo of US milling wheat to feed livestock in an unusual deal.
Dealers are awaiting the release of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission's weekly commitment of traders data at 1930 GMT, which may offer clues on investors' interest in the grains complex.