GRAINS-Corn prices set for biggest quarterly loss in 5-1/2 years

SYDNEY, March 31 (Reuters) – U.S. corn futures edged up on Tuesday as traders squared positions ahead of two widely watched reports, though prices were poised for their biggest quarterly loss in more than five years as the coronavirus pandemic rattles financial markets.

FUNDAMENTALS

* The most active corn futures on the Chicago Board Of Trade dropped more than 11% for the quarter, poised for the biggest three-month loss since September 2014.

* Corn was up at $3.41-3/4 a bushel, having closed down 1.4% in the previous session.

* The most active soybean futures down more than 7% for the quarter, the biggest quarterly loss since June 2018.

* The most active wheat futures up more than 2% for the quarter, set for the second straight three-month gain.

* U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to issue two reports on Tuesday on prospective U.S. plantings and quarterly grain stocks.

* Analysts polled by Reuters expect the report to show U.S. corn and soybean plantings above last year’s weather-reduced acreage and tighter year-on-year stocks of grain, as of March 1.

* Argentine shipments of soy, corn and other agricultural exports were delayed as the government ramps up inspections of incoming ships.

* Soybean underpinned by the risk of logistical snags in South America and reduced palm oil production in Malaysia due to the coronavirus.

* Weekly USDA export data showed that a larger-than-expected volume of corn was inspected for export last week, while soybean and wheat inspections were near the lower-end of trade estimates.

MARKET NEWS

* The dollar rose against the yen on Tuesday as Japanese investors and companies rushed to cover a shortage of the U.S. currency before their fiscal year end, but sentiment remained fragile as the global coronavirus crisis showed no signs of abating.

* Oil edged lower in volatile trading on Friday, posting a second consecutive weekly loss as caution about Europe’s debt crisis and year-end positioning continued to spark selling into rallies.

* U.S. stocks rose on Monday, led in part by healthcare stocks as investors looked for shares that have become cheap and can withstand the impact to the economy from efforts to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

Reporting by Colin Packham, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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