(Updates with comment, background)
By Colin Packham and Emily Chow
SYDNEY/SHANGHAI, May 18 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures fell for a second consecutive session on Monday as ample global stocks and sluggish demand due to the COVID-19 pandemic pushed prices to a near two-month low.
Corn and soybean prices, however, were both trading higher.
The most-active wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade fell 0.1% to $5.00 a bushel at around 0400 GMT, trading near their lowest since March 18. The contract closed 0.4% lower on Friday.
The most-active soybean futures rose 0.6% to $8.44 a bushel, having gained 0.2% on Friday.
Aiding soybean prices, the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) said its members processed 171.754 million bushels of soybeans last month, above an average of trade expectations for 170.483 million.
While China, the world’s largest consumer of soybeans, has pledged to speed up purchases of U.S. agricultural products, doubts about its demand for U.S. soybeans remain.
“A big question mark for me is whether or not China will take full cargo of U.S. beans that they are committed to. We see record amounts coming from Brazil, it looks like supply from there is coming pretty well,” said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank.
“Given what Brazil is sending to China at the moment, is there enough China demand to make U.S. commitment?”
China is set to speed up purchases of U.S. farm goods and will implement the Phase 1 trade deal signed in January with the United States, state-owned trading house COFCO said.
It is also allocating more low-tariff import quotas for corn this year and may expand its use of wheat quotas, as it seeks to step up farm purchases from the United States and meet a pledge to comply with global trade rules.
Reuters reported on Sunday that China has asked trading firms and food processors to boost inventories of grains and oilseeds as a possible second wave of COVID-19 cases and worsening infection rates elsewhere raise concerns about global supply lines.
Meanwhile, the most-active corn futures, which had earlier climbed to its highest in three days, were last 0.7% up at $3.21-1/2, having gained 0.6% in the previous session.
Last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture projected that U.S. wheat exports would decline in 2020/21 from the previous year, while exports from Russia, Australia, Canada and Argentina would increase.
Reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and Emily Chow in Shanghai; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Uttaresh.V