President Donald Trump expressed optimism on a trade deal with China, after meeting with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He in the Oval Office on Friday afternoon.
"I think we both feel there's a very good chance the deal will happen," Trump said, adding that the group of negotiators has "been making a lot of progress."
Trump said he plans to meet with President Xi Jinping to work out the final details of a deal "fairly soon," and those conversations are likely to take place at Mar-a-Lago next month.
According to a Bloomberg report, China has committed to buying more US soybeans, a good sign of progress on trade talks between the nations, according to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue.
"In Oval Office meeting today, the Chinese committed to buy an additional 10 million metric tons of US soybeans," Perdue said in a tweet.
"Strategy is working. Show of good faith by the Chinese. Also indications of more good news to come," he said.
Since the US-China trade truce began in early December, Chinese buyers have scooped up at least 6.9 million tons of American beans, government data show.
But traders have been looking for sales closer to 10 million tons. They were also hoping that target would be met faster — token sales here and there aren't enough to goose the market.
News of additional purchases could be what's needed to kickstart prices that have been trading in a narrow range this year.
Prices could trade higher by as much as 10 cents a bushel when the market reopens on Sunday night, according to Rich Feltes, head of market insights for Chicago-based R.J. O'Brien & Associates. May futures settled on Friday at $9.23 3/4 a bushel.
The soybean purchases would dovetail with a proposal by Beijing to buy an additional $30 billion a year of US agricultural products including corn, soybeans and wheat as part of a possible agreement. Donald Trump said this week that trade talks involved Beijing buying "a lot" of corn.
On Friday, a data dump from the US Department of Agriculture Friday showed net-export sales to China during the six weeks ended February 14 totaled 3.92 million metric tons for the 2018-2019 season.
That was basically in line with previously reported sales during the period.
The news of more purchases "could be very reassuring to the market after the disappointing export sales numbers we had come out this morning," said Niko Anderson, a grain broker at SCB Group in Chicago.
"And further, this can only be seen as encouraging for the overall trade negotiation."
A Chinese delegation led by Vice Premier Liu He will extend this week's visit to Washington as trade talks with US officials show signs of progress including an agreement on currency policy.
This week's round of talks were supposed to end Friday, but Liu extended his stay by two days.
US President Donald Trump praised the Chinese envoy during a meeting in the White House and said he could meet his counterpart Xi Jinping in the "not-too-distant future."
'Very likely to happen'
Speaking through an interpreter, Liu said a deal with the US is very likely to happen.
Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who is leading talks for the White House, said the two sides have made progress on structural issues related to the Chinese economy but still have major hurdles to overcome.
The two sides did agree on a currency provision, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said at the meeting, without elaborating.
Bloomberg News reported this week that the US was asking China to keep the value of the yuan stable to neutralize any effort to soften the blow of US tariffs.