January 31, 2020 / 4:19 AM / 25 days ago

GRAINS-Soybeans rise for first time in 9 sessions, set to close week 2% lower

* Soybeans remain under pressure as coronavirus fears mount

* Corn firms, set to finish week down more than 1.5%

* Wheat heads for first weekly decline in a month

By Colin Packham

SYDNEY, Jan 31 (Reuters) - U.S. soybeans rose for the first time in nine sessions on Friday, but stayed on track to record a weekly loss of more than 2% as traders worried that the new coronavirus outbreak could crimp Chinese demand for North American supplies.

Corn edged higher but remained on course to finish the week more than 1.5% lower, while wheat was set to post its first weekly loss in a month.

The most active soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade were up 0.6% at $8.81-1/2 a bushel by 0322 GMT, heading for a third straight weekly drop.

The contract closed down 1.9% on Thursday, when it hit its lowest since Dec. 4 at $8.75-1/2 a bushel.

“The prospect of China’s logistics being halted or shuttered for periods ripples through the oilseed supply chain,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy, Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday it was declaring the coronavirus outbreak that has killed 213 people in China a global emergency, as cases spread to at least 18 countries.

Adding pressure, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that export sales of U.S. soybeans in the week ended Jan. 23 were 471,700 tonnes, near the low end of analysts’ expectations.

Data showed 360,900 tonnes in weekly sales to China, the world’s top soybean importer, although 210,000 tonnes were sales previously reported to unknown destinations.

The most active wheat futures were little changed at$5.60-1/4 a bushel after Thursday’s 0.3% drop.

Wheat was down more than 2% for the week, on track for its first weekly slide in four.

The most active corn futures were up 0.3% at $3.80-3/4 a bushel after closing down 1.2% in the previous session.

Corn was down more than 1.5% for the week so far, heading for its second straight weekly loss.

Analysts attributed the falls to weak demand for U.S. supplies.

The USDA reported weekly export sales of old-crop U.S. corn were 1,234,700 tonnes and new-crop sales were 143,600 tonnes, both above trade estimates. Total weekly U.S. wheat sales of 647,000 tonnes were near the high end of expectations. (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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