Colin Packham

Australia's active COVID-19 cases hit four-month low

30 Oct 2020

SYDNEY Australian officials said on Friday there just under 200 active cases of COVID-19 in the country, the lowest number in more than four months and well down from a peak of just over 8,000 in mid-August.

New Zealand approves euthanasia, set to reject recreational marijuana

30 Oct 2020

New Zealand has provisionally voted to legalise euthanasia but is on course to reject law changes that would allow recreational marijuana use, the country's Electoral Commission said on Friday.

Australian state heads to the polls amid tension in 'COVID-19 national cabinet'

29 Oct 2020

SYDNEY Australia's third most populous state goes to the polls on Saturday in an election overshadowed by COVID-19 and which looks set to extend a fracture in the country's national cabinet on how best to handle the pandemic and economic recovery.

GRAINS-Soybeans rebound from nine-day low, coronavirus fears cap gains

29 Oct 2020

SYDNEY, Oct 29 U.S. soybean futures rose on Thursday after earlier hitting a nine-day low as concerns about the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic loomed over prices.

GRAINS-Wheat falls nearly 1% as rains expected across U.S. Plains

28 Oct 2020

SYDNEY, Oct 28 U.S. wheat futures fell nearly 1% on Wednesday to a two-week low as concerns about global supplies eased on forecasts for rain across the U.S. Plains, a major grain-producing region.

Australia's COVID hotspot state records two days without new cases for first time in seven months

27 Oct 2020

SYDNEY The Australian state of Victoria, the epicentre of COVID-19 infections, said on Tuesday it had gone 48 hours without detecting any new cases for the first time in more than seven months.

Australia's coronavirus epicentre to ease curbs after no new cases

26 Oct 2020

SYDNEY A lockdown of Australia's second-biggest city will be eased after the country's coronavirus epicentre said it had gone 24 hours without any new infections for the first time in four months, Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said on Monday.

Australia's COVID-19 lockdown also prevented about 400 deaths from other illnesses: research paper

26 Oct 2020

SYDNEY Social distancing and lockdowns in Australia not only slowed the spread of COVID-19, they saved the lives of about 400 people who would have been expected to died in June from respiratory illnesses such as pneumonia, a research paper published on Monday showed.

GRAINS-Wheat firm near 6-year top as weather worries persist

23 Oct 2020

* Dry weather effects seen in Russian, U.S., Argentine wheat belts * Egypt wheat tender adds to flurry of international demand * Corn steady near 14-month top on strong export demand * Soybeans also consolidate after 4-year high; Brazil rain eyed (Updates with European trading, changes byline/dateline) By Gus Trompiz and Colin Packham PARIS/SYDNEY, Oct 23 Chicago wheat rose on Friday as traders worried about persisting effects of drought in major production belts worldwide and importers continued to grab available supply. Corn edged higher to hold near Thursday's 14-month high as strong export demand and doubts over harvest prospects in Ukraine and South America underpinned the market. Soybeans were little changed after rallying to a four-year peak in the previous session, as investors assessed improving rainfall in Brazil that could boost the planting campaign. The most active wheat futures on the Chicago Board of Trade were up 0.9% at $6.28-1/2 a bushel by 1046 GMT. The contract had fallen earlier to a one-week low as it eased from Tuesday's near six-year high, before turning upwards to trade back close to that peak. "The weather remains a really important factor for wheat," Nathan Cordier of consultancy Agritel said. "You've got a lot of rain in Australia, Argentina has suffered from dryness and frost, conditions aren't good in U.S. states like Kansas, while in Russia there is still a lot of uncertainty." The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange on Thursday cut again its forecast of the Argentine wheat harvest, citing the impact of drought despite the recent return of rain. Fellow southern hemisphere exporter Australia is set for a rebound in production this year, but rain in the southeast has raised concern about crop quality. In Russia, virtually no rain was expected in the week ahead in dry southern belts, although some forecasts projected showers in early November. Egypt is holding a tender on Friday, following purchases this week by Algeria, Tunisia and Turkey. CBOT soybeans inched up a quarter of a cent to $10.74 a bushel, after hitting on Thursday a more than four-year high of $10.85-1/4. CBOT corn was up 0.4% at 4.17-3/4 a bushel, near Thursday's peak of $4.19 that marked a highest since August 2019. U.S. Department of Agriculture weekly export data on Thursday confirmed strong demand for corn and soybeans, including large sales to China. Prices at 1046 GMT Last Change Pct End Ytd Pct Move 2019 Move CBOT wheat 628.50 5.75 0.92 558.75 12.48 CBOT corn 417.75 1.50 0.36 387.75 7.74 CBOT soy 1074.00 0.25 0.02 955.50 12.40 Paris wheat December 210.25 1.25 0.60 188.75 11.39 Paris maize Nov 194.50 3.25 1.70 174.75 11.30 Paris rape Nov 393.25 -1.50 -0.38 391.50 0.45 WTI crude oil 40.86 0.22 0.54 61.06 -33.08 Euro/dlr 1.18 0.00 0.22 1.1210 5.64 Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel, Paris futures in euros per tonne (Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel and Tomasz Janowski)

Australia to lift cap on citizens returning as thousands left stranded

23 Oct 2020

SYDNEY Australia will slightly lift the cap on the number of citizens and permanent residents allowed to return each week, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Friday, as local COVID-19 cases slow to single digits.

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