February 26, 2020 / 5:57 PM / a month ago

GRAINS-Soybeans bounce as Argentina suspends export registrations

* Argentina halts export registrations, higher duties likely

* Coronavirus fears remain anchor on commodities prices (Rewrites throughout with U.S. market open, adds quote, updates prices, changes byline, previous dateline PARIS/SINGAPORE)

By Karl Plume

CHICAGO, Feb 26 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures on Wednesday extended a rebound from a sharp drop earlier this week as investors anticipated changes to Argentine export taxes that could reduce export competition from the major soy supplier.

Corn and wheat futures were narrowly mixed, stabilizing after Monday’s grain market meltdown triggered by fears that the spread of coronavirus could stall grain shipments around the world and dent global economic growth.

Gains were capped by a firming U.S. dollar and nagging concerns about the spread of the virus, which has infected about 80,000 people worldwide and killed more than 2,700.

Soybean and soymeal futures bounced on news that Argentina’s Ministry of Agriculture 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.

“The Argentine news was supportive for soymeal and beans,” said Terry Reilly, senior commodities analyst. “It shifts the (export) flows of beans and especially meal to the United States.”

Soybeans, however, remain anchored by export competition from top supplier Brazil, whose likely record-large harvest is priced well below U.S. exports.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) May soybean futures were up 3-3/4 cents at $8.92 a bushel by 11:38 a.m. CST (1738 GMT) in a second day of gains following the contract’s drop on Monday to a nine-month low.

May soymeal futures rose $4.40 to $297.40 per ton, the contract’s steepest rise in nearly three months.

CBOT May corn was down a penny at $3.75-1/2 a bushel, while May soft red winter wheat fell 2 cents to $5.35 a bushel.

Severe disruption to economic activity in China, where the virus first developed, has already dampened hopes for increased Chinese imports of U.S. agricultural goods - as called for under a “Phase 1” trade agreement between Washington and Beijing.

The risk of a wider impact on demand was adding to concern on grain markets, although steady short-term buying by importers was helping underpin prices.

“Demand is raising questions, with an economic impact possibly strong on global growth,” consultancy Agritel said.

“Wheat seems the most fragile since the funds are in a long net position on this product, which could lead to profit-taking, or to a market trend reversal.”

Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz and Forrest Crellin in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Mark Potter and Richard Chang

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