U.S. grains: Corn, wheat hit two-week lows on COVID-19 fears

Commodity selling continues dragging on grains, analysts say

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. grain futures extended losses on Thursday, with corn and wheat hitting two-week lows as concerns over the COVID-19 pandemic’s economic impact weighed on prices.

Improving global crop weather added pressure on prices, with rains benefiting dry wheat-growing areas in the U.S. and Russia and soybean-producing regions of Brazil, traders said. Crude oil also fell as COVID-19 lockdowns in Europe and rising cases elsewhere clouded the demand outlook.

“The energy sector spills over into the agricultural market when it comes to soybean oil and corn,” said Terry Reilly, senior commodity analyst for Futures International. “Widespread commodity selling is obviously a major factor.”

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The most actively traded corn futures on the Chicago Board of Trade finished three cents lower at $3.98-1/2 a bushel and touched their lowest price since Oct. 14 (all figures US$).

Most-active CBOT wheat futures fell five cents to $6.03-3/4 per bushel and reached the lowest price since Oct. 15.

Soybean futures ended down 4-1/4 cents at $10.50-1/2 a bushel and hit their lowest price since Oct. 19. Soybeans have retreated since rising on Monday to their highest price since July 2016.

“Nervousness and volatility are setting up on all markets, the main consequence of the new wave of the COVID pandemic,” French consultancy Agritel said. “Funds started to take profits, motivated by the uncertainties over global demand and the U.S. election.”

Selling overshadowed strong export demand, traders said.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said weekly U.S. wheat export sales totaled 803,200 tonnes, topping market forecasts for 200,000 tonnes to 700,000 tonnes.

Weekly U.S. corn export sales reached 2.244 million tonnes, above estimates for 700,000 tonnes to 1.5 million tonnes. Soybean export sales were 1.630 million tonnes, in line with forecasts.

Mexican buyers separately booked deals to buy their largest volume of U.S. corn since December 2019, USDA said on Thursday.

— Reporting for Reuters by Tom Polansek in Chicago; additional reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris.

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