June 11 (Reuters) - U.S. exporters reported sales of 720,000 tonnes of soybeans to China, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Thursday, as active purchases by the world's top soy importer continued for a second straight week.
The USDA confirmed the sales after reporting that weekly U.S. soybean export sales last week were the largest in at least 16 months, with the majority slated for shipment to China or undisclosed destinations widely believed to be China.
China has been ramping up U.S. soybean purchases as supplies in Brazil, China's top soy supplier, are tightening and Brazil's strengthening currency has driven up prices.
The buying spree also comes amid heightened Sino-U.S. tensions over the coronavirus pandemic and Beijing's new national security legislation in Hong Kong.
China vowed in a Phase 1 trade deal signed in January to dramatically increase purchases of U.S. farm goods. But sales of key commodities like soybeans, America's biggest agricultural export by value, remain well below levels before the U.S.-China trade war that began in 2018.
In a weekly report on Thursday, the USDA said a net 1 million tonnes of soybeans were sold for export in the 2019/20 marketing year in the week ended June 4, including 337,000 tonnes to China and 213,200 tonnes to unknown destinations. New-crop sales totaled more than 1.2 million tonnes, with 517,000 tonnes to China and 644,000 to unknown buyers.
Those combined sales represented the largest weekly soy sales tally since at least February 2019, according to USDA data.