February 7, 2020 / 3:18 AM / 15 days ago

GRAINS-Soybeans up for fifth day; slowing Chinese demand curbs gains

* Soybeans set for weekly gain

* Slowing Chinese purchases likely to add pressure on prices (Adds details, quote 3,4)

By Naveen Thukral

SINGAPORE, Feb 7 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures rose for a fifth consecutive session on Friday, on course to snap three weekly losses, although slowing Chinese demand amid a coronavirus outbreak kept a lid on prices.

Corn ticked up after two consecutive sessions of losses, while wheat was largely unchanged.

“Soybeans are caught between large South American crop and China,” said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at brokerage IKON Commodities in Sydney.

“At the moment, the market is likely treading water to sliding backwards until China shows their hand with a bit of real buying.”

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was up 0.3% at $8.84 a bushel, as of 0259 GMT. The contract has gained 1.3% so far this week after losing 7.8% in the last three weeks.

Corn and wheat were little changed so far this week.

U.S. export sales of soybeans to China fell to their lowest in nearly five months in the week ended Jan. 30, a weekly U.S. Agriculture Department report showed on Thursday, amid concerns that the coronavirus outbreak would dent demand from the world’s top buyer.

The export sales to China totalled just 31,523 tonnes in the week ended Jan. 30, according to the USDA report. That was the lowest since the week ended Sept. 5, 2019.

China on Thursday said it would halve additional tariffs levied against 1,717 U.S. goods last year, following the signing of a Phase 1 deal that defused a bruising trade war between the world’s two largest economies.

While the announcement reciprocates the U.S. commitment under the deal, it is also seen by analysts as a move by Beijing to boost confidence amid the virus outbreak that has disrupted businesses and hit investor sentiment.

Commodity funds were net sellers of CBOT corn, wheat and soyoil futures contracts on Thursday and net buyers of soybean and soymeal futures, traders said. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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