By Kirk Maltais
--Corn for March delivery fell 0.9% to $3.79 1/2 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on Thursday, with hopes for stronger export demand in the near future being dashed as coronavirus outbreak appears to be growing.
--Wheat for March delivery fell 0.6% to $5.44 1/4 a bushel.
--Soybeans for March delivery rose 0.4% to $8.96 1/4 a bushel.
Going Viral: China reported a tenfold increase in new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, causing traders to worry about demand for grains. "The CBOT has lacked volume as traders try to understand the demand risk of China's coronavirus against its pledge to open its markets and secure U.S. ag goods as early as next week," AgResource said.
Exports Lacking: Thursday's export sales report didn't contain any indicators of major Chinese purchases, nor did the USDA confirm any big daily sales. "Lack of daily U.S. grain sales announcements weighed on corn, oats and wheat," said Terry Reilly of Futures International, adding that Chinese interest in Ukrainian corn has also been bearish for U.S. corn futures.
Wheat Bounce: Despite Thursday's decline, U.S. wheat futures are likely to gain as the outlook for supplies is below par. "The U.S. still has a lot of poor-quality wheat in storage, U.S. winter wheat acres are historically low, and Europe struggled to get their winter crop planted," said Doug Bergman of RCM Alternatives, who advises investors to "look for the uptrend to resume."
Get Shorty: Bayer doesn't want its corn to grow up too fast. The seed and pesticide maker is developing a shorter variety of corn that the company says will reduce farmers' crop losses, as shorter stalks will be less likely to break due to wind. Shorter corn plants would also let farmers runsprayers in their fields later in the season, rather than spraying insecticides from planes, which Bayer's agricultural R&D head says will allow farmers spray less and with more precision.
Sunny Side Up: Climatologists say it's unlikely that weather-influencing El Nino or La Nina will take place this year. Commodity Weather Group said there's a 50% chance that this spring and summer will be warm and wet in the Midwest. "The bottom line is that this analysis still puts highest odds on a favorable Midwest growing season," said Arlan Suderman of INTL FCStone. It would be a departure from last spring, when record-wet weather caused a delay in crop planting.
--The USDA releases Agricultural Projections to 2029 at noon ET Friday.
--The CFTC releases its weekly commitment of traders report at 3:30 p.m. ET Friday.
--Agricultural markets and the federal government will be closed on Monday in observance of Presidents Day, and will reopen Tuesday.
--Glencore PLC releases its full-year earnings report Tuesday.
(Jacob Bunge contributed to this article.)
Write to Kirk Maltais at email@example.com