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Wheat firms, set for 2nd monthly loss on Black Sea supplies

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SINGAPORE — Chicago wheat firmed on Wednesday, on expectations of China loosening its COVID-19 restrictions, although the market was poised for a second monthly decline on Black Sea supplies.

Soybeans inched higher and were on track for their second straight monthly gain, while corn slid en route to its first monthly loss in four.

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The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) rose 0.6% to $7.86 a bushel, as of 0357 GMT, soybeans added 0.2% to $14.62-1/2 a bushel and corn lost 0.1% to $6.68-3/4 a bushel.

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For the month, wheat is down 11%, soybeans have added 3% and corn has lost 3.2%.

A senior Chinese health official said on Tuesday that public complaints about COVID-19 controls stem from overzealous implementation, fueling investor expectations that Beijing may ease restrictions that have prompted unusual public protests.

China is one of the world’s largest wheat importers, and investors have been concerned that COVID-19 cases and protests could slow its economic growth.

Cheap supplies from Russia and elsewhere in the Black Sea are leading to stiff competition for U.S. suppliers, weighing on CBOT futures.

Purchases in recent days by importers including Egypt’s state buyer GASC and Turkey’s state grain board TMO have underlined competitive prices for Black Sea origins, despite disruption caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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The U.S. Department of Agriculture, in its last weekly crop progress report for 2022, on Tuesday rated 34% of U.S. winter wheat in good to excellent condition, up 2 percentage points from the previous week and a bigger improvement than most analysts had expected.

But the USDA’s figure, down from 44% a year ago, was the lowest rating for this time of year since late November of 2012, when 33% of the 2013 crop was rated good-to-excellent. Dry conditions are the main concern. About 75% of the U.S. winter wheat production area was experiencing drought as of Nov. 22, according to the government.

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

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