February 14, 2020 / 11:26 PM / 6 days ago

GRAINS-Corn, soy, wheat futures end lower ahead of U.S. holiday weekend

 (Recasts; updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline, previous
    By Julie Ingwersen
    CHICAGO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - U.S. corn and soybean futures
closed lower on Friday on technical selling ahead of a long
holiday weekend and uncertainty about U.S. export prospects,
traders said.
    Wheat futures followed the weak trend, drifting lower in
rangebound trade. A stronger dollar hung over the
markets, making U.S. grains and soy less competitive to those
holding other currencies.
    Chicago Board of Trade March corn settled down 1-3/4
cents at $3.77-3/4 per bushel after dipping to $3.76-1/4, its
lowest since Feb. 6.
    March soybeans settled down 2-1/2 cents at $8.93-3/4 a
bushel and March wheat fell 1-1/2 cents to end at $5.42-3/4 a
    Traders are waiting to see if China steps up purchases of
U.S. agricultural products as the U.S.-China Phase 1 trade deal
goes into effect this weekend, 30 days after its signing on Jan.
    Meanwhile, Chinese buyers purchased Ukrainian-origin corn in
the past week, following deals for French wheat reported last
week, European traders said.
    China has also been booking soybeans from Brazil in recent
days, traders said. And favorable weather in South America has
bolstered expectations for large Argentine and South American
    "The trade has been optimistic that we would see some
purchases by China. But when they made that purchase of corn
from Ukraine, the markets just backed off," said Dewey
Strickler, president of Ag Watch Market Advisors.
    "There has been high hopes that we would see some (Chinese)
purchases possibly as early as next week on (U.S.) soybeans, but
if they don't show up, that is going to put pressure on the
soybean market and the other grains as well," Strickler said.
    China, the world's largest soybean importer, committed to
large increases in purchases of U.S. farm goods in the trade
deal, although the spread of a new coronavirus has raised doubts
about Chinese demand.
    CBOT wheat futures declined, with the March contract
finishing the week down 16 cents a bushel or nearly 3%,
following a slide in world cash prices.
    "Global wheat prices have ticked down ... and therefore U.S.
wheat prices have followed suit," said Joe Vaclavik, president
of Standard Grain, a brokerage. 
    U.S. markets will be closed on Monday in observance of the
Presidents Day holiday. Later in the week, the U.S. Department
of Agriculture will hold its annual Outlook Forum on Feb. 20 and
21 during which the government will release projections for 2020
U.S. crop production.
    CBOT settlement prices:
                                  Net     Pct  Volume
                         Last  change  change        
 CBOT wheat     WH0    542.75   -1.50     0.1   60531
 CBOT corn      CH0    377.75   -1.75    -0.5  203519
 CBOT soybeans  SH0    893.75   -2.50    -0.4  118906
 CBOT soymeal   SMH0   291.10   -0.80    -0.2   48280
 CBOT soyoil    BOH0    30.57   -0.15    -0.5   36374
    NOTE: CBOT March wheat, corn and soybeans shown in cents per
bushel, soymeal in dollars per short ton and soyoil in cents per

 (Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen
Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Arun Koyyur, Alexander Smith
and Richard Chang)
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