U.S. soybean futures fell as news of a new COVID variant discovered in South Africa sent oil and equities markets lower, with moves exaggerated by low trade volume across the grain and oilseed commodities. Chicago Board of Trade January soybeans lost 13-3/4 cents, at $12.52-3/4

a bushel, the contracts biggest drop since Nov. 4. For the week, CBOT’s most-active soybean contract lost 0.81%. CBOT’s most active March wheat fell 10 cents to $8.40-1/4 a bushel, while CBOT March corn ended 6-1/4 cents higher at $5.91-3/4 a bushel. For the week, wheat added 0.72% and corn gained 3.63%. News of the COVID variant sent authorities in the European Union, Britain and India announcing stricter border controls as scientists seek to determine if the mutation is vaccine-resistant. “Crude oil prices are down … on fears of the return of lockdowns globally,” said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at StoneX, in a note. “The unknown of this variant creates fear, which is being played out in the markets today.“ Oil prices posted the largest one-day drop since April 2020, falling with global equities markets on fears a new COVID-19 variant could dampen economic growth and fuel demand. Strong export sales softened the blow, with corn turning positive at the end of trading. “The corn was insulated because of the export sales being at a marketing year high and China the number

four buyer,” said Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics. U.S. exporters sold 1.565 million tonnes of soybeans during the week of Nov. 18, up 13% from the previous week and the prior 4-week average, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, primarily due to increases in sales to China. Sales were within analysts’ expectations. Corn and wheat export sales beat expectations, with 1.429 million tonnes of corn sold, primarily to Mexico and Canada, up 58% from the previous week. Exporters sold 567,500 tonnes of wheat, primarily to Japan and Naigeria, up 42% from the previous week and 70% from the prior 4-week average.