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Corn eases on coronavirus fears, set for 3rd month of gains on strong demand

10/29/2020 | 10:52pm

* Corn ticks lower after strong rally to 14-month high this week

* Coronavirus concerns curb gains in Chicago corn futures

* Strong demand from China to Mexico to limit decline corn prices

SINGAPORE, Oct 30 (Reuters) - Chicago corn slid on Friday, weighed by concerns about the economic harm caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, although the market is poised for its third straight month of gains on the back of strong demand.

Soybeans are in positive territory for a fifth consecutive month as brisk buying keeps prices close to a four-year high touched earlier this week.

The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade (CBOT) has risen almost 5% in October, with the market adding close to 22% to its value in three months. Corn was down 0.1% at $3.98 a bushel, as of 0334 GMT.

Soybeans are up nearly 4% this month, while wheat has gained around 5% in October.

"Demand has been pretty strong across the board for soybeans, corn and wheat," said one Singapore-based grains trader. "Importers who had missed out on the rally are buying on expectations of further increase in prices."

Worries over the economic damage from the pandemic kept a lid on prices with corn, wheat and soybeans facing declines this week.

A gauge of Asian shares fell for a third straight session on Friday as jitters over the upcoming U.S. presidential election and fears that the global economic downturn will persist enveloped markets, though the index was still set to end the month higher.

Global coronavirus cases rose by more than 500,000 for the first time on Wednesday, a record one-day increase as countries across the Northern Hemisphere reported daily spikes.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said weekly U.S. wheat export sales totalled 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 of 700,000 tonnes to 1.5 million tonnes. Soybean export sales were 1.630 million tonnes, in line with forecasts.

Mexican grains buyers booked deals to buy their largest volume of corn from the United States since last December, the USDA said Thursday, a development that could point to growing import demand from its southern neighbour.

Brazil, one of the world's largest agricultural producers, is importing food staples including soybeans due to a rise in domestic prices, President Jair Bolsonaro said in a video posted on social media.

The International Grains Council on Thursday trimmed its forecast for global corn production in the 2020/21 season, reflecting diminished outlooks for crops in the United States, Ukraine and European Union.

Commodity funds were net sellers of CBOT corn, wheat, soybean and soyoil futures contracts on Thursday, and net buyers of soymeal, traders said. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel)

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