GRAIN HIGHLIGHTS: Top Stories of the Day

TOP STORIES:

Corn Futures Lead Grains Lower as Coronavirus Saps Momentum

Corn for March delivery fell 0.5% to $3.77 3/4 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade on Friday, with the upward movement that started Wednesday now thoroughly dashed as the coronavirus continues to spread in China. Some 5,090 new coronavirus infections were reported in China Thursday evening, bringing the total of confirmed cases to more than 63,000 since the outbreak began. Traders believe this is keeping China from accelerating its U.S. agriculture purchases per the terms of the phase one trade deal.

Chinese Appetite for Ukrainian Corn Sinks US Futures -- Market Talk

14:05 ET - An agricultural trade publication is reporting that China has procured roughly half-a-million metric tons of corn from the Ukraine -- which is bogging down corn futures on the CBOT Friday afternoon. "All combined, China in the crop year to date has booked an estimated 1.8 [million metric tons] of Ukraine corn - which we assume is under TRQ import licenses," says AgResource. This is disheartening for US traders, who instead were hoping for Chinese buyers to start buying more US product as the phase one trade deal between the two nations officially comes into force this weekend. Corn futures are down 0.5%. (kirk.maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)

STORIES OF INTEREST:

Syngenta Hangs on to Profits in Wet Year for Farmers -- Market Talk

10:26 ET - Pesticide and seed developer Syngenta's 2019 $13.6B in sales and $1.5b in profit were flat compared with a year earlier, which the company calls a success given the historic wetness that plagued US farmers throughout the planting season. Unrelenting rain forced many farmers to return seed and skip planting some fields entirely, cutting deeply into North American seed sales, though Syngenta made up for it by selling more pesticides to Brazilian and Argentine farmers. The Swiss-based company, owned by China National Chemical, reported its full-year results as it works toward an initial public offering after selling itself to the Chinese state-owned enterprise in 2017. (jacob.bunge@ wsj.com; @jacobbunge)

USDA Sees Grain Prices Steady in Next Decade -- Market Talk

12:23 ET - The USDA is projecting that through the next decade, prices for soybeans, wheat, and corn are all expected to stay steady. "Nominal prices for corn, wheat, and soybeans are all projected to average below the 2010-19 period, but higher than the 2000-09 average," says the USDA in its annual Agricultural Projections report. Planted acreage of these crops is also expected to remain consistent, although yields for corn and soybeans are expected to gradually rise. Following the reports' release, wheat futures on the CBOT stayed 0.5% higher, while soybeans are down 0.4% and corn is off 0.5%. (kirk.maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)

Citi Shifts Into Neutral on Fertilizer Stocks -- Market Talk

1215 GMT - Citi downgrades CF Industries, Mosaic and Nutrien to neutral from buy and slashes its price targets on the shares, saying it expects lower fertilizer prices will leave them range-bound this year. The Citi analysts say price weakness despite significant supply discipline in phosphate and potash, along with a flattening nitrogen cost curve, has them moving to the sidelines. Citi cuts its target prices to $43 from $56 for CF, to $21 from $29 for Mosaic, and to $47 from $61 for Nutrien. They add that FMC, braced by its R&D pipeline and patent protection, remains their top pick in the ag space, followed by Corteva. (colin.kellaher@wsj.com)

THE MARKETS:

Cattle Futures Close Back Over $1.20 Per Pound -- Market Talk

15:47 ET - Live cattle futures finish up 1.5% to $1.20325 per pound. For the week, cattle gains 0.5%--overcoming a down start to the week. Meanwhile, hog futures also manage to turn higher after starting the day on the downside, with the April contract finishing up 0.4% at 64.3 cents per pound. The contract still had a down week, however, finishing with a loss of 2.6%. (kirk.maltais@wsj.com; @kirkmaltais)


  (END) Dow Jones Newswires
  02-14-20 1727ET
  Copyright (c) 2020 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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