PARIS, FRANCE β€” Chicago wheat, corn and soybean futures edged lower on Feb. 26 as concern economic growth will be hurt by the spread of novel coronavirus curbed a modest recovery on crop markets the day before.

More than 81,000 infections and 2,700 deaths, mostly in China, have been linked to the virus.

Severe disruption to economic activity in China, where the virus first developed, already has dampened hopes for increased Chinese imports of U.S. agricultural supplies under a phase one trade agreement between the United States and China.

But the virus has now been detected in nearly 40 countries and health officials say a global pandemic is likely. The risk of a wider impact on demand was adding to concern on grain markets, although steady short-term buying by importers was helping underpin prices.

While supply-side balance sheets are unlikely to be affected, it is demand that raises many questions, with an economic impact likely to be strong on global growth, Paris-based consultancy Agritel said.

The U.S. grain markets paused on Feb. 25 after the sharp drop in prices the previous day.

β€œThe context remains very fragile, however, with an alert from the American health authorities who suggest likely cases of coronavirus infections to come to the country,” Agritel said

It noted that wheat seems the most fragile, since the funds are in a long net position on this product, which could lead to profit taking, or to a marked reversal of trend.