Chicago soybean futures were higher for a fourth consecutive session on Thursday, tracking a continuing recovery in commodity markets as jitters over an impact on Chinese demand from a fast-spreading coronavirus subsided.
Uncertainty over the consequences of the disease outbreak capped soybean gains, however, and helped push Chicago corn and wheat slightly lower.
Grain markets were awaiting weekly export sales figures from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) later on Thursday for an update on overseas demand.
The most-active soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade was up 0.4% at $8.83-1/4 a bushel by 1237 GMT, as it extended a rebound from Monday's two-month low of $8.68-3/4.
The new coronavirus, which has killed hundreds of people in China and led to travel restrictions, has raised concern on grain markets about reduced import demand after consumption of soybeans was already dented by a pig fever epidemic.
A step by China to reduce some tariffs on U.S. goods including soybeans, as part of a recent trade agreement with Washington, and talk that Chinese firms have been making purchases of South American soybeans also reassured the market.
"Right now there's a foothold in the market," Michael Magdovitz, commodities analyst with Rabobank, said.
"China is in the market for soybeans. It's hard to know but I don't think there will be a catastrophe for Chinese demand."
Beijing's tariff reduction, which would take the duty on U.S. soybeans to 27.5% from 30%, was limited but shifted attention back towards potential for increased Chinese purchases of U.S. supplies under a "phase 1" trade deal with Washington.
But U.S. soybean suppliers will have to contend with an expected bumper Brazilian harvest.
Brazilian farmers will produce an estimated 124 million tonnes of soybeans in the 2019/2020 cycle, up 1.9% from January's forecast, INTL FCStone said on Tuesday, citing strong yields and area increases.
CBOT corn futures inched down 0.3% to $3.79-3/4 a bushel, while CBOT wheat eased 0.6% to $5.58-3/4 a bushel.
The corn market has been weighing up brisk export sales and strong ethanol demand against uncertainty surrounding China.
"U.S. corn appears to be the game in town for exports," Magdovitz said, adding the market would be watching the USDA's weekly export figures followed by the agency's monthly supply and demand outlook next week to gauge demand prospects.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. output of corn-based ethanol in the latest week jumped to 1.08 million barrels per day, from 1.03 million the previous week, while stocks fell to 23.47 million barrels.