February 4, 2020 / 4:13 AM / 14 days ago

GRAINS-Soybeans up for 2nd day on U.S. exports, China virus caps gains

* Soybeans gain more ground as U.S. sells beans to Egypt

* Wheat futures ease, falling for 7 out of 8 sessions (Adds details, quote in paragraph 7, 8)

By Naveen Thukral

SINGAPORE, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures rose for a second straight session on Tuesday after data showed U.S. export inspections beat market expectations, although concerns about the spread of a new coronavirus in China capped gains.

Wheat prices slid, falling for seven out of eight sessions, while corn edged higher.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade was up 0.4% at $8.80-1/2 a bushel by 0327 GMT, having firmed 0.5% on Monday after prices earlier hit the Dec. 3 low of $8.69 a bushel.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday reported export inspections of U.S. soybeans in the latest week at 1.36 million tonnes, topping a range of trade expectations for 550,000 to 1.20 million tonnes. The USDA on Monday also confirmed private sales of 130,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to Egypt.

However, the coronavirus epidemic that has sparked worries about demand from the world’s top soybeans importer, China, continued to weigh on prices. The total number of virus deaths in China reached 425 as of Monday.

“Soybeans are up but the market direction really depends on the virus,” said a trader at an international company which has soybean processing facilities in China.

“If there are more cities under lockdown, prices will come under pressure as lockdowns are demand destroyers.”

The soybean market’s focus is on South America as harvest in the region gathers pace.

Brazil’s soybean exports in February may exceed volumes registered in the same month last year, as harvesting gathers pace and shipments are undeterred by the outbreak of the new coronavirus in China, Brazil’s main customer.

Scheduled shipments show close to 7 million tonnes will be exported out of Brazilian ports this month, according to data from shipping services firm Cargonave.

Rains have been ample in key parts of Argentina’s bread-basket province of Buenos Aires, but they have been uneven and raised concern about crop yields in some isolated areas, a grower and climatologist said on Monday.

Wheat was down 0.3% at $5.54 a bushel and corn gained 0.3% to $3.79-3/4 a bushel.

The USDA’s weekly export inspections figure for corn, at 562,380 tonnes, was at the low end of trade expectations, while the wheat inspections figure of 413,984 tonnes was in line with expectations.

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

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