February 28, 2020 / 8:17 AM / a month ago

GRAINS-Wheat falls for 3rd day, faces biggest monthly drop since July

* Wheat down almost 6% in Feb, corn nearly 4% lower

* Coronavirus pandemic fears drag down global markets (Updates prices)

By Naveen Thukral

SINGAPORE, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat slid for a third consecutive session on Friday, on track for its biggest monthly drop since July, as a spike in new coronavirus cases beyond China fuelled fears of a pandemic.

Corn was poised for a second consecutive monthly loss, while soybeans were set to close February with a marginal gain after last month's steep loss.

"The Covid-19 epidemic's influence has returned," the Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in a note.

"Investors exiting commodities, as well as investors exiting long wheat positions, are taking prices lower."

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade has dropped 5.9% so far this month.

Wheat was down 1.2% at $5.21-1/4 a bushel by 0802 GMT, after marking its lowest since Dec. 12 at $5.21 a bushel.

Corn was down 3.8% for the month, poised for its second straight monthly drop, while soybeans were up 1.1% after slumping nearly 9% in January.

Soybeans slid 1.4% to $8.82-1/4 a bushel on Friday, while corn lost 0.4% to $3.66-1/2 a bushel.

World share markets were headed for their worst week since the depths of the 2008 financial crisis as investors ditched risky assets on fears the coronavirus would become a pandemic and trigger a global recession.

Hopes that the epidemic that started in China would be over in a few months and economic activity would return to normal have been shattered, as new infections reported around the world now surpass those in China.

There was additional pressure on the wheat market stemming from an estimate of all-time high world output.

World wheat production is expected to rise to a record 769 million tonnes in the 2020/21 season, boosted by a 2% rise in area, the International Grains Council said on Thursday.

In its monthly update, the inter-governmental body also increased its 2019/20 global wheat crop forecast by 2 million tonnes to 763 million tonnes.

Argentina has suspended the registration of agricultural exports until further notice. The move was seen as foreshadowing a jump in grain export tariffs under the country's new Peronist government.

Weekly corn, soybean and wheat export sales data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture weighed on futures as sales of all three commodities last week were at or below the lowest trade estimates.

Commodity funds were net buyers of CBOT soybean and soymeal futures contracts on Thursday and net sellers of corn, wheat and soyoil, traders said. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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