GRAINS-Soybeans at 6-month low on prospect of harder economic hit from virus

Naveen Thukral

* Soybeans, corn, wheat down more than 1%

* World markets tumble as WHO declares coronavirus a pandemic (Adds details on commodity funds, quote in paragraphs 3,4)

SINGAPORE, March 12 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures slid for a second session on Thursday to a six-month low as the threat of deeper economic damage from the coronavirus dragged down global stocks and commodities after world health officials declared the flu-like virus a pandemic.

Wheat dropped to its lowest in almost four months, while corn lost 1%.

"There is more downside to agriculture commodities from the current level although oil and industrial commodities are likely to take a bigger hit," a Singapore-based grains trader said.

"For commodities like wheat, we don't see a big decline in demand."

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade fell 1.4% to $8.61 a bushel by 0308 GMT. Earlier in the session, the market dropped to its weakest since Sept. 10 at $8.57-3/4 a bushel.

Wheat gave up 1.1% to $5.07-1/4 a bushel after dropping to $5.04-1/4 a bushel, the lowest since Nov. 18, while corn fell 1.1% to $3.70-1/2 a bushel.

In the latest blow to market sentiment, U.S. President Donald Trump announced a temporary travel ban from Europe to curb the spread of the virus, threatening more disruptions to businesses and the world economy.

Oil prices slumped 6% after the travel ban was announced, following a World Health Organization announcement labelling the outbreak a pandemic.

Italy was set to tighten a nationwide lockdown and Denmark has shut all schools and universities, as countries worldwide batten down against the coronavirus outbreak, which has now been officially declared a pandemic.

Exchange operator CME Group Inc said on Wednesday it would close its Chicago trading floor after business hours on Friday to reduce large gatherings.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said U.S. ethanol stockpiles last week fell to 24.33 million barrels, backing down from the previous week's record high, while output of the corn-based fuel fell to 1.04 million barrels per day.

Meanwhile, farm office FranceAgriMer lifted its forecast for French soft wheat exports outside the European Union this season for the sixth month in a row, saying it saw no immediate impact from the coronavirus outbreak on brisk demand for French supplies.

Commodity funds were net sellers of CBOT corn, soybean, wheat, soyoil and soymeal futures contracts on Wednesday, traders said. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Devika Syamnath)

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