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Grain markets uneasy amid coronavirus worries that just won’t go away


US grain futures are steady to slightly weaker in early US pre-market trading Friday.


Risk-off trading attitudes around the globe are keen as the trading week winds down, as the coronavirus continues to spread in Asia, and its impact on the global economy is perceived to be getting much more serious. That’s bearish for the grain markets.


Reports overnight said China’s auto sales fell over 90% in February as coronavirus restrictions prevented buyers from visiting car dealerships. The Hubei province is still in lock-down and officials there have pushed back the date for businesses to reopen to 10 March. That date could be further delayed if covid-19 is not contained by then. China recorded over 800 new cases Thursday (up from around 400 Wednesday), with the total number of afflicted now at over 75,000 and over 2,200 dead.


South Korea has reported over 200 confirmed covid-19 cases. The capital has banned all rallies in major downtown areas. From a grain markets perspective the covid-10, or coronavirus, situation is still very fluid regarding the economic impact on major world economies, including demand for grains. Traders and investors are vacillating daily on whether the outbreak’s rate of spread is accelerating or declining. This uncertainty will continue to limit buying interest in the grains.


Traders are watching the new supply and demand numbers from annual USDA Ag Outlook conference that ends today. So far, there have been no surprising numbers to significantly move the grain futures markets.


Friday also sees the USDA export sales report released—one day later this week because of the US holiday on Monday. Grain market bulls want to see more Chinese activity in the weekly US export sales data.



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