Chicago wheat, soybean and corn futures fell by about 1.5% on Monday as concern over the economic fallout from the coronavirus and a crash in crude oil prices pushed equities and other commodities sharply lower.
The Chicago Board of Trade's most active soybean contract was down 1.7% at $8.75-1/2 a bushel by 1117 GMT.
Wheat fell 1.7% to $5.06-1/2 a bushel and corn dropped 1.4% to $3.70-3/4 a bushel. Europe's Euronext benchmark May wheat futures in Paris fell 2.2%.
Earlier on Monday wheat dropped to its lowest since mid-November at $5.05-3/4 a bushel and soybeans hit their lowest since 3 February at $8.70-1/4 a bushel.
Global share markets tumbled as investors fled to bonds to hedge the economic shock of the coronavirus while oil plunged by as much as 33% after Saudi Arabia launched a price war with Russia.
Italy ordered a virtual lockdown across much of its wealthy north, including the financial capital Milan, in a drastic new attempt to try to contain the virus outbreak which brought another sharp leap in fatalities on Sunday.
“Soybeans, corn and wheat are all falling today following weakness in outside markets,” said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager at INTL FCStone. “Crude oil prices are down sharply and the coronavirus fears are depressing equity markets.
“The fall in crude oil prices has markedly weakened the Russian rouble, which in turn opens the way for cheaper Russian wheat export prices. This is bearish for rival wheat exporters including the United States.”
Other background factors remained bearish, with the market still awaiting large, new Chinese purchases of U.S. soybeans and grains after January's Phase 1 trade deal between the countries.
“The soybean market still needs news about new Chinese buying in the United States to recover," said Ammermann. "The waiting has now been very long and the question remains how long can prices hold support on expected Chinese demand.
“Corn is also being depressed by overall good crop wheat in South American exporters Argentina and Brazil.”
Soybean exports from Brazil, which had significant delays in February because of intense rain in coastal cities, are expected to gather pace in southern ports as the weather turns drier in the coming days.
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