U.S. grains: Crop prices slide as pandemic concerns rattle markets

Traders await U.S. export sales data Thursday

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. grain and soybean futures fell on Wednesday as part of a broad sell-off in markets fueled by concerns about the economic impact of a global surge in COVID-19 cases, traders said.

Losses in agricultural futures pulled corn prices back from a 14-month high reached on Tuesday and soybean prices down from a four-year high set on Monday.

“Corn and soybean prices were overbought and vulnerable to a correction,” said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at StoneX.

The most-active corn futures contract on the Chicago Board of Trade slid 14-1/2 cents, to $4.01-1/2 a bushel, and touched its lowest price since Oct. 15 (all figures US$).

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Soybean futures ended down 21-3/4 cents at $10.54-3/4 a bushel and reached their lowest price since Oct. 20. Wheat fell seven cents, to $6.08-3/4 per bushel, at the CBOT.

Crop prices advanced recently on export demand, particularly from China, and worries about unfavourable dryness in growing areas around the world.

Rains in dry soybean-growing areas of Brazil, which competes with the United States for export sales, are now weighing on soy prices, traders said. Precipitation in wheat-growing regions of Russia and the U.S. Plains added pressure on wheat futures, they said.

“Corn and soybeans were trading at prices they were, based on assumptions of future developments,” Suderman said. “When you’re in a risk-off environment, like we are in the broader markets, that leaves them vulnerable.”

On Thursday, traders will review weekly export sales data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The agency said on Wednesday that exporters struck deals to sell 120,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to unknown destinations and 110,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to Egypt. Exporters also reported sales of 207,000 tonnes of optional-origin corn to South Korea, according to USDA.

High demand from importers and limited supply from growers have pushed up prices for Ukrainian corn by $18-$25 a tonne in recent days, according to APK-Inform agriculture consultancy.

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

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