TABLE-China's wheat auction soars on high corn prices, coronavirus fears

(Adds analyst comments, background) By Hallie Gu and Shivani Singh BEIJING, Jan 18 (Reuters) - China sold nearly all the wheat offered at its regular auction of state reserves last week, far more than usual as feedmakers sought alternatives to corn and rising coronavirus cases sparked supply fears. Some 3,939,732 tonnes of wheat, or 99.74% of the total offer, was sold at auction, the National Grain Trade Center said in a statement on Monday. "It (the auction) was crazy, most of the wheat was bought by traders who were auctioning for the feed makers," said a trader who purchases wheat for milling plants. "We could only watch," added the trader, who said feed buyers were willing to pay whatever was needed to secure supplies. He declined to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media. China's corn futures traded on Dalian Commodity Exchange continued to rise on Monday after hitting record levels last week. China sold off its once massive corn reserves last year, while typhoons hurt the most recent harvest in the country's northeast. Just over half the wheat offered at the previous week's auction was sold, while December sales ranged from around 12% to 18% of stock offered. The average selling price at last week's wheat auction was 2,504 yuan ($386.27) per tonne, up 7% from just two weeks ago, according to data from the trade centre. "People probably worried about supply and logistics with the increased (coronavirus) case numbers," said Darin Friedrichs, senior analyst at StoneX, adding that there may have been some panic buying last week to secure supplies. China has reported a surge of new coronavirus outbreaks in recent weeks, prompting lockdown in major grains producers Hebei and Heilongjiang provinces, which has disrupted logistics and industrial activity. The table below shows the volume of wheat sold at weekly auctions from China's state reserves since June 22 last year. Auction Total up Total Percentag Average date for sale sold e sold price (tonnes) (tonnes) (yuan per tonne) 13-Jan 3,949,934 3,939,73 99.74% 2,504 2 6-Jan-21 4,023,775 2,099,19 52.16% 2365 9 30-Dec 4,038,152 582,153 14.41% 2,344 23-Dec 4,033,267 484,427 12.01% 2,341 16-Dec 4,020,220 593,161 14.75% 2,342 9-Dec 4,030,811 649,373 16.11% 2,339 2-Dec 4,032,878 715,244 17.73% 2,342 25-Nov 674,796 16.76% 2,340 4,024,180 18-Nov 17.62% 2,339 4,019,884 708,462 11-Nov 21.57% 2,336 3,988,788 860,535 4-Nov 56.10% 2,343 4,000,754 2,244,64 0 28-Oct 67.74% 2,356 3,983,946 2,699,06 8 21-Oct 73.41% 2,357 3,984,332 2,924,93 9 14-Oct 41.19% 2,347 4,015,809 1,654,11 5 28-Sep 12.20% 2,342 3,013,958 367,930 23-Sep 7.49% 2,312 3,041,332 227,835 16-Sep 7.81% 2,310 3,053,816 238,510 9-Sep 8.86% 2,303 2,075,956 184,083 2-Sep 5.72% 2,351 2,029,753 116,176 26-Aug 7.71% 2,348 2,026,128 156,314 19-Aug 15.54% 2,359 2,051,998 318,897 12-Aug 38.50% 2,360 1,117,052 430,129 5-Aug 20.48% 2,346 1,046,249 214,342 29-Jul 20.93% 2,328 1,098,145 229,923 22-Jul 1.76% 2,367 1,040,199 18,395 15-Jul 5.85% 2,346 1,042,977 61,109 8-Jul 2.76% 2,364 1,058,876 29,285 1-Jul 0.83% 2,337 1,049,901 8,780 22-Jun 0.37% 2,316 1,058,852 3,959 ($1 = 6.4825 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Hallie Gu and Shivani Singh; Additional reporting by Beijing Newsroom; Editing by Shailesh Kuber and Richard Pullin)

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