April 24, 2020 / 3:47 PM / a month ago

GRAINS-U.S. corn, soy futures retreat after three days of gains; wheat also weak

(Recasts with U.S. trading, new analyst quote, changes byline/dateline; pvs PARIS/SYDNEY)

By Mark Weinraub

CHICAGO, April 24 (Reuters) - U.S. corn and soybean futures fell on Friday after three straight days of gains as investors took some risk out of the market due to demand uncertainty stemming from the global coronavirus pandemic, traders said.

Wheat futures also were lower.

Recent gains were technical based and underlying fundamentals remained uncertain even with a recent spate of export deals for both commodities.

"We have been on a pretty good run here the last couple of days and now we are taking some profits," said Jack Scoville, analyst at Price Futures Group in Chicago.

At 10:33 a.m. CDT (1533 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade July corn futures were down 3-1/2 cents at $3.22-1/2 a bushel.

A collapse in ethanol demand linked to the novel coronavirus outbreak continued to hang over the corn market and forecasts for some good planting weather in the U.S. Midwest added pressure.

Archer Daniels Midland Co said on Thursday it will temporarily idle ethanol production at two of its corn dry mill facilities due to lower gasoline demand.

CBOT July soybean futures were off 6-1/2 cents at $8.40-1/4 a bushel.

China agreed to buy 136,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Friday morning, the third straight day in a row an export deal with the world's top soy importer has been announced. Chinese buyers have booked 606,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans this week - all for delivery in the 2019/20 marketing year - as futures prices fell to an 11-month low due to fallout from the pandemic.

There was still caution given relatively modest purchases since the signing of a U.S.-Chinese trade deal earlier this year, however, when Beijing pledged to ramp up agricultural imports.

"No precise timetable has been set for the purchases as yet – they are to take place in accordance with market conditions," Commerzbank said in a note.

USDA also said private exporters reported the sale of 125,000 tonnes of soybeans and 589,395 tonnes of corn to Mexico.

CBOT July soft red winter wheat futures were 4-1/4 cents lower at $5.40-1/2 a bushel. (Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Mark Potter and Tom Brown)

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