U.S. grains: Wheat tumbles on weak export sales, recession fears

Corn, soybeans rise on crude oil rally, but end mixed

Chicago | Reuters — U.S. wheat futures fell for a fourth straight session on Thursday, extending prior-day losses that were the worst in 7-1/2 months as weak U.S. export sales data stoked concerns about the coronavirus pandemic destroying demand.

Soybeans and corn ended mixed as early short-covering and spillover support from sharply higher crude oil prices faded, and traders turned their focus to potential demand contractions amid a firming U.S. dollar and worries about a global recession.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported net wheat export sales last week at 72,900 tonnes for the current marketing year that concludes on May 31, below trade expectations and down 86 per cent from the prior four-week average.

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After an initial surge in export sales as the coronavirus crisis deepened globally, some importers are backing away from additional purchases amid still-abundant global supplies and strong harvest prospects in key producing nations.

Egypt’s state grains buyer, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), on Wednesday canceled a tender to buy an unspecified amount of wheat from global suppliers shortly after announcing it, without giving a reason.

“Export sales were a marketing year low. Importers were overbooking with coronavirus (concerns) and people can only buy so much flour. Reality has set in and the panic buying has subsided,” said Karl Setzer, commodity risk analyst for AgriVisor.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) May wheat fell 8-1/2 cents to $5.41-3/4 a bushel (all figures US$). Selling pressure accelerated as prices broke below technical chart support at its 50- and 100-day moving averages.

CBOT May soybeans ended down four cents at $8.58-3/4 a bushel, the lowest in nearly two weeks.

May corn fell to within a penny of its contract low and ended down 1-1/4 cents at $3.33-1/2 a bushel. All other corn contracts posted fresh contract lows early in the session or matched previous lows.

Solid corn and soy export sales data from USDA kept a floor under both markets. Corn export sales last week were near the high end of a range of trade forecasts, while soybean sales topped expectations.

Reporting for Reuters by Karl Plume; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore.

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