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Soybeans and Coffee Futures Slide

December 9, 1999

CHICAGO (AP) _ Soybean futures prices fell to three-week lows Thursday in trading on the Chicago Board of Trade, amid reports of heavier-than-expected rainfall in southern Brazil.

Grain futures prices also fell, partly in response to delays by the United States in fulfilling a request by Russia for a 5.1-million-ton food aid package, which corn was expected to dominate.

In other markets, coffee futures prices continued to fall and cocoa futures prices rallied higher.

Farmers _ wondering how far soybeans prices will fall after the January contract lost more than 20 cents a bushel in the last two days _ are awaiting Friday’s U.S. Agriculture Department supply and demand report.

But Don Roose, an analyst with U.S. Commodities Inc., said the slide could be stemmed if dry conditions that have lately predominated return to Brazil. The effect of the La Nina weather pattern could mean a return to dry conditions there.

``One rain event doesn’t make a soybean crop,″ he said. ``It alleviated immediate concerns.

``However goes the moisture and crop condition in South America, so goes the prices.″

Wheat and corn futures prices set new contract lows. Wheat fell partly in anticipation of a bearish USDA report Friday, and the corn market reacted partly to delays in fulfilling Russia’s aid request.

Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister Vladimir Shcherbak is expected to meet in Moscow Friday with U.S. Russian Ambassador James Collins to discuss why the U.S. reconsidered allocating a second food aid package. The U.S. has said it is a budgetary issue, but Russia thinks it could be in retaliation for its military activities in Chechnya.

Wheat for March delivery fell 1 cent to $2.40 3/4 a bushel; March corn fell 2 3/4 cents to $1.97 1/4 a bushel; March oats fell 1 1/4 cents to $1.12 a bushel; and January soybeans fell 12 3/4 cents to $4.59 1/2 a bushel.

Livestock futures prices rose early, then fell in trading Thursday on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange.

February live cattle fell 0.40 cent to 69.57 cents a pound; January feeder cattle fell 0.28 cent to 85.12 cents a pound; February lean hogs fell 0.03 cent to 57.02 cents a pound and February frozen pork bellies fell 0.87 cent to 78.90 cents a pound.

Coffee futures prices fell again Thursday on the New York Coffee, Sugar and Cocoa Exchange, after the rains in Brazil’s crop areas.

But analyst Judith Ganes of Merrill Lynch & Co., said the rains are probably ``too late to do anything but stem the decay in the crop.″

``It won’t help recover it,″ she said, adding she thinks markets are overreacting to the rain. ``I expect (the market) to kick back into high gear because of more limited supplies.″

March coffee prices fell 6.85 cent to $1.22 1/4 cents a pound.

Cocoa futures prices gained $18 to settle at $885 a ton due to continued labor unrest in Ivory Coast, where farmers have been protesting low cocoa prices.

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