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Soy, Grains Drop on Speculation Chinese Demand May Fall

April 15 (Bloomberg) -- Soybean and corn futures closed at the lowest prices since June on speculation that Chinese demand will ebb because of slowing economic growth, while an outbreak of avian flu erodes demand for livestock feed. Wheat dropped.

China, the world’s top soybean buyer, may cut imports for the first time since 2004, a Bloomberg survey of crushers and analysts showed. Feed demand will drop after the H7N9 flu virus caused 61 human infections and 13 deaths, while the discovery of 11,000 pig carcasses in a Shanghai river last month created an environmental scare that drove hog prices lower. Economic growth in the first quarter trailed forecasts by economists.

“The bird flu outbreak is still expanding, and that should create weakness in demand for animal feed as meat demand slows,” Greg Grow, the director of agribusiness at Archer Financial Services Inc. in Chicago, said in a telephone interview. “Slowing Chinese growth remains a big concern.”

Soybean futures for July delivery declined 1.7 percent to close at $13.56 a bushel at 1:15 p.m. on the Chicago Board of Trade, the lowest settlement for a most-active contract since June 18.

Corn futures for July delivery dropped 2.1 percent to $6.28 a bushel, the lowest settlement since June 26.

In the U.S., soybean crushing by 12 companies in the National Oilseed Processors Association fell 2.5 percent to 137.08 million bushels in March from a year earlier, the group said today. Margins based on the price of Chicago futures and the sale of soy-based animal feed and cooking oil plunged to 0.25 cent a bushel today from 9 cents on April 12 and 36.5 cents at the end of March.

Wheat futures for July delivery slid 2.8 percent to $6.9925 a bushel, the biggest drop since April 1.

Corn is the biggest U.S. crop, followed by soybeans, hay and wheat, government data show.

To contact the reporters on this story: Whitney McFerron in London at wmcferron1@bloomberg.net; Jeff Wilson in Chicago at jwilson29@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Steve Stroth at sstroth@bloomberg.net.

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