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FORT COLLINS, (Colo.): Speculators last week expanded soybean optimism to keep pace with their most bullish-ever views for the time of year, but they eased off their massive corn bets to a much larger degree than expected.

Money managers have increased their CBOT soybean net long position in 13 of the last 16 weeks. Crop estimates have taken a historic dive on drought in South America, especially in top exporter Brazil.

As of Feb. 8, the managed money soy net long reached 166,315 futures and options contracts, up about 12,000 on the week. Funds have added gross longs for eight consecutive weeks totalling nearly 100,000 contracts, the most for such a period since October 2020, the early days of the rally.

CBOT soybean open interest surged 22% in the two weeks ended Feb. 8, the largest two-week gain since April 2016. At 1.08 million contracts, open interest is 18% below the year-ago levels, but it had been down 38% at the start of 2022.

Soybeans had another connection with 2016 later last week as a record number of CBOT soybean options were traded on Feb. 10, surpassing the high set on May 10, 2016. Thursday’s volume of 537,893 contracts was ninth all-time, the most since June 2018.

Three of the top five daily soybean volume records were set in April 2016.

Most-active CBOT soybean futures jumped to a nine-month high on Thursday of $16.33 per bushel but ended almost 59 cents lower, leaving traders feeling at least a short-term high had been reached. South American weather concerns lingered on Friday, and futures ended the last three sessions up nearly 1%.

The US Department of Agriculture flashed US soybean sales every day last week, uncommon for the start of Brazil’s shipping season. The flashes totalled 1.62 million tonnes with 70% for next marketing year.

CBOT soybean meal futures rose more than 4% through Feb. 8, and money managers added more than 11,000 futures and options contracts to their net long, which reached 88,138 contracts. That is record-high for the date.

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