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UPDATE 1-CME eyes adding St. Louis delivery point for corn futures

(Adds comments from CME Group)

CHICAGO Nov 22 The CME Group Inc is considering adding a delivery point for its corn futures contracts in St. Louis, Missouri, and has delayed listing new contracts from a Dec. 14 kick-off until it makes a decision, the exchange said on Tuesday.

If approved, St. Louis would be the southernmost delivery point and provide new options for farmers and traders along the lower Illinois River and the Mississippi River, said Fred Seamon, the CME's senior director of commodity research and product development.

Both soybeans and wheat are already delivered in St. Louis. The CME last made alterations to its delivery points for the corn contract in 2000.

The delay covers the July 2020 and December 2020 corn contracts, and all subsequent months. CME said it did not have a deadline for making a decision and was seeking customer feedback.

There are 25 delivery points for corn futures. Two are along Lake Michigan and 23 are along the Illinois River with Pekin, near Peoria, Illinois, being the current southernmost delivery point, according to the exchange's website.

"The more delivery points that you can have, it just makes it easier to utilize the contract, potentially," said Joe Lardy, an analyst at CHS Hedging. "Spreading these points around just gives a little more flexibility."

CHS Hedging is a division of CHS Inc, which owns two of the corn delivery points, at Pekin and Morris.

Lardy did not know whether CHS had been asked to give feedback to the CME on the potential changes. A CHS spokeswoman declined to comment.

CME Group spokesman Chris Grams declined to specify which customers requested the change.

About 16 percent of U.S. grain shipped on barges bound for export markets is loaded on the section of the Mississippi River from St. Louis to Cairo, Illinois, said Ken Eriksen, a transportation analyst with Informa Economics.

"This is a recognition that St. Louis has become more and more of a hub for grain flow," said Paul Bertels, vice president of production and sustainability at the National Corn Growers Association.

The NCGA did not request the change in the contract but plans to provide a comment to the exchange. (Reporting by Michael Hirtzer; Editing by Alan Crosby)

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