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GRAINS-Corn eases from 3-1/2-month top as demand…

By Naveen Thukral

SINGAPORE, July 2 – Chicago corn futures fell for the first time in five sessions on Thursday as a decline in demand due to the pandemic outweighed support from smaller-than-expected plantings of the grains.

Soybeans climbed for a fourth consecutive session, while wheat declined after three days of gains.

“Lower-than-expected planting supported corn prices but the key challenge for corn is demand destruction,” said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank in Melbourne.

Lower consumption of corn-based fuel ethanol, which competes with mineral oil, has weighed on corn prices as the coronavirus curbs global energy consumption.

The Chicago Board of Trade most-active corn contract was down 0.3% at $3.59-1/2 a bushel, as of 0344 GMT, after reaching its highest since March 16 at $3.63 a bushel on Wednesday.

Soybeans added 0.1% to $9.00 a bushel, after rising in the last session to $9.02 a bushel, the highest since March 5. Wheat fell 0.3% to $4.97-1/4 a bushel, having added nearly 5% over the last three sessions.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) estimated farmers planted 92 million acres of corn this spring, lower than USDA’s March forecast of 97 million acres, the biggest March-to-June drop since 1983.

Soybean acreage came in at 83.825 million acres, compared with 83.510 million acres in March. Analysts had been expecting 84.716 million acres of soybeans.

Hot, dry weather forecasts across the U.S. Midwest have also elevated concerns about crop stress as U.S. corn and soybeans move into key summer growth stages.

Commodity funds were net buyers of Chicago Board of Trade corn, soybean, soymeal, wheat and soyoil futures contracts on Wednesday, traders said. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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