3 Big Things Today, January 27, 2020

Byline:

1. Soybeans, Grains Plunge Overnight on Coronavirus Fears

Soybean and grain futures plunged in overnight trading on continued concerns about how the coronavirus outbreak that’s spread globally will affect demand.

Eighty deaths have been reported in China out of the almost 2,800 cases that have been confirmed, Reuters reported. The U.S., Australia, Taiwan, and Macau have each reported five cases, while Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, and Singapore have all reported four cases.

France, Vietnam, and Nepal also have reported cases of the disease.

China’s Economist Intelligence unit said late last week that the virus could cut 0.5 to 1 percentage point from the Chinese economy.

The U.S. and China just signed a trade deal before the disease outbreak was discovered in which the Asian country agreed to increase purchases of agricultural products. Investors, traders, and producers are anxiously awaiting evidence of the bump in buying.

Soybean futures for March delivery dropped 12¢ to $8.90 a bushel overnight on the Chicago Board of Trade. Soy meal futures lost $2 to $296.30 a short ton, and soy oil declined 1.01¢ to 31.01¢ a pound.

Corn futures for March delivery lost 6¼¢ to $3.81 a bushel.

Wheat futures for March delivery plunged 11¾¢ to $5.61¾ a bushel, while Kansas City futures lost 8¼¢ to $4.77¾ a bushel.

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2. Speculative Investors Raise Bearish Bets on Soybeans, More Positive on Wheat

Money managers raised their bearish bets in soybeans to the highest level in almost a month last week amid concerns about the coronavirus’s impact on demand.

Investors held 19,341 net-short positions, or bets on lower prices, in the week that ended on January 21, according to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

That’s the largest bearish position in soybeans since the seven days that ended on December 24, the CFTC said in a report.

Speculators reduced their net-short positions in corn, however, to 65,890 futures contracts last week, the lowest level since October.

In wheat, speculators were much more bullish, raising their net-long positions, or bets on higher prices, in soft red winter wheat futures contracts to 39,286, the CFTC said. That’s up from 26,857 contracts a week earlier and the largest such position since August 2018.

Investors also bumped their net-long positions in hard red winter futures contracts to 9,617 last week, up from 6,524 seven days earlier and the largest bullish position since October 2018, the agency said in its report.

The weekly Commitment of Traders Report from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission shows trader positions in futures markets.

The report provides positions held by commercial traders, or those using futures to hedge their physical assets; noncommercial traders, or money managers (also called large speculators); and nonreportables, or small speculators.

A net-long position indicates more traders are betting on higher prices, while a net-short position means more are betting futures will decline.

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3. Winter Storm Watch Issued For Kansas, Oklahoma Where 9 Inches of Snow May Fall

A winter storm watch is in effect for south-central Kansas and north-central Oklahoma this morning, according to the National Weather Service.

“Heavy, wet snow” is expected in the region starting late tonight and continuing through early tomorrow morning, the NWS said in a report early this morning.

From 4 to 9 inches of snow are possible in the region, with the heaviest amounts forecast along the border between the states. Travel is expected to become difficult.

In eastern Iowa and western Illinois, meanwhile, a winter weather advisory is in effect until 9 a.m., the agency said.

Freezing drizzle, dense fog, and accumulations of ice are already occurring in the area, which likely will affect travel. Conditions improved as of about 5:45 a.m. local time for some of the affected counties, though temperatures are now below freezing, which could slow travel, the NWS said.