SYDNEY: US soybean futures edged up on Thursday to ease from a 2019-low touched the day before, but gains were checked by expectations of ample South American supply and fears swine fever outbreaks in China could hit demand for oilseeds there.

Corn prices were unchanged, while wheat inched higher despite forecasts for bumper global stocks.

The most active soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade were up 0.1 percent at $8.79-3/4 a bushel by 0301 GMT. They closed down 1 percent on Wednesday, having marked their lowest since Dec. 26 at $8.78-1/2 a bushel. But analysts said that prices for the oilseed remained under pressure.

“The news suggests the market is both gaining supply from bigger South American crops and losing demand as China's pigs succumb to African swine fever," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy, Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Argentina estimated its 2018-19 soy harvest at 55.9 million tonnes, up from a drought-reduced 37.78 million tonnes last year.

In Brazil, consultancy Celeres pegged the country's soybean crop at 115.8 million tonnes, up from its previous estimate of 113.8 million.

Meanwhile, Chinese pork prices are set to jump 70 percent in the second half of the year, a senior official said on Wednesday, after data showed an outbreak of African swine fever cut the world's largest hog herd by 10 percent in the first quarter. China uses soybeans to make ingredients for animal feed.

Potentially offering some support to soy prices, the Wall Street Journal reported that the United States and China have tentatively scheduled a fresh round of face-to-face trade talks, with negotiators aiming to hold a signing ceremony in late May or early June.

The most active corn futures were unchanged at$3.58-1/4 a bushel. They closed down 1 percent in the previous session, after hitting their lowest since April 9 at $3.56-3/4 a bushel.

The most active wheat futures were up 0.1 percent at $4.47-1/2 a bushel, having closed up 0.4 percent on Wednesday.

The US Department of Agriculture in a weekly report issued on Monday rated 60 percent of the US winter wheat crop in good-to-excellent condition. That was unchanged from the previous week and in line with trade expectations, but up from 31 percent a year ago.

Copyright Reuters, 2019