China took another step toward meeting agricultural commitments made in the phase one trade agreement with the U.S. with its biggest-ever purchase of American corn.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said Thursday that exporters sold 1.937 million metric tons of corn, the third-largest deal for the grain to any destination. The purchase tops the previous record sale to China earlier this month, when 1.762 million tons were booked.
China has increased its imports of animal-feed ingredients as relations soured with barley-shipping Australia. Stepped-up buying of U.S. corn began in March. About 1.3 million tons of American corn was sold for the season ending Aug. 31, while about 5.72 million tons was sold to be shipped in the next season, including Thursday's announced sale, the USDA data showed.
That puts China on a path to meet or exceed the World Trade Organization's quota of 7.2 million tons of corn imports from any country in the year.
China is still on the line for $36.5 billion in U.S. agricultural goods as part of a trade accord, up from $24 billion in 2017. Although the accelerated purchases will push the nation closer to that target, they might not provide enough momentum to reach the figure.
While the deals could help President Donald Trump shore up support from farmers ahead of the November election in the crucial farm states, the reaction in the Chicago futures market has been relatively muted.
Corn for December delivery jumped as much as 1% before paring gains. Prices were holding near the lowest in about a month, with favorable U.S. crop conditions probably contributing to a large surplus.