March 7, 2019 / 12:24 PM / 7 months ago

GRAINS-U.S. wheat sinks to 11-month low, corn also eases

* U.S. wheat dips to lowest level in almost a year

* High ethanol stocks weigh on U.S. corn prices

* U.S.-China trade talks remain a major focus (Adds quotes, updates prices)

By Nigel Hunt

LONDON, March 7 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures slid to an 11-month low on Thursday, weighed down by the slow pace of exports in the face of tough competition from the Black Sea region.

U.S. corn prices also eased while soybeans recovered some ground after falling on Wednesday.

May wheat futures on the Chicago Board Of Trade fell 0.8 percent to $4.46-1/2 a bushel by 1156 GMT after dipping to a low of $4.44, the weakest price for the most active contract since March 29 last year.

U.S. wheat exporters have struggled to make sales in the face of tough competition from Black Sea rivals.

“A record quantity of wheat would need to be exported (by the United States) between March and May if the USDA’s forecast for the season as a whole is to be reached,” Commerzbank said in a market note.

“There is little to suggest this will happen, given the tough competition and firm U.S. dollar.”

The European Union has also struggled to compete against Black Sea suppliers, with soft wheat exports running 16 percent below last year’s pace.

May milling wheat on Paris-based Euronext fell 0.7 percent to 185.50 euros a tonne.

Corn prices were weakened by high ethanol stocks, which could curb demand from biofuel producers.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said ethanol stocks rose to 24.26 million barrels, the highest for a year.

The most active corn futures were down 0.3 percent at $3.71-1/2 a bushel, having closed 0.9 percent down in the previous session.

The most active soybean futures rose 0.4 percent to $9.05-1/4 a bushel, having closed 1.3 percent down on Wednesday.

Dealers continued to keep a close watch on trade talks between the United States and top soybean buyer China.

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday said that trade talks with China were moving along well and predicted either a “good deal” or no deal between the world’s two largest economies.

“The soybean markets are marking time, waiting for news about the trade talks between the U.S. and China while people are positioning ahead of the USDA reports on Friday,” one European trader said. “I think there will be a lot of attention on the USDA’s South American soybean crop forecasts.

“Markets will want to know how much new-crop soybeans will come onto the market in the next few months from Brazil and Argentina – and whether this will be bought up by China again if no U.S.-China trade deal is reached.” (Additional reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and Michael Hogan in Hamburg Editing by Richard Pullin and David Goodman)

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