January 23, 2020 / 2:15 AM / a month ago

GRAINS-Wheat hovers near 18-month peak as global supplies tighten

SYDNEY, Jan 23 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures edged higher on Thursday as concerns about tightening global supplies pushed prices towards an 18-month high in the previous session.

FUNDAMENTALS

* The most active wheat futures on the Chicago Board Of Trade were up 0.3% at $5.79-1/4 a bushel by 0137 GMT. In the previous session, it closed 0.7% lower after hitting an Aug. 2, 2018 high of $5.92-1/2 a bushel.

* The most active soybean futures were unchanged at $9.13-3/4 a bushel, having closed down 1.5% on Wednesday when prices hit a Dec. 16 low of $9.13 a bushel.

* The most active corn futures were up 0.2% at $3.89-1/2 a bushel, having gained 0.3% in the previous session.

* Traders in the farm markets continued to wait for signs of increased demand from China after Beijing pledged to increase imports of U.S. agricultural products in an initial trade deal the countries signed last week.

* The United States has not confirmed new agricultural sales to China since inking the deal.

* Rail and port strikes in France have raised the risk of reduced export availability in the European Union’s biggest wheat supplier.

* A French grain industry body said this week that industrial action over pension reform had left 450,000 tonnes of grain, worth some 100 million euros ($111 million), blocked at French ports.

* Export prices of Russian wheat reached their highest level last week since the season began in July due to demand from major customer Egypt and risks related to Russian proposals to introduce an export quota, analysts said.

MARKET NEWS

* The safe-haven Japanese yen was firm and the Chinese yuan fragile on Thursday as traders kept a wary eye on the spread of a virus in China, while the ailing Australian dollar jumped after a surprise drop in unemployment.

* Oil prices fell more than 2% on Wednesday as a market surplus forecast by the International Energy Agency (IEA) and demand worries amid the outbreak of a virus in China outweighed concern over disruptions to Libya’s crude output.

* Technology shares led the S&P 500 marginally higher on Wednesday, as a healthy forecast from IBM helped mitigate worries over the developing coronavirus outbreak.

Reporting by Colin Packham, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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