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U.S. grains: Soybeans ease but notch fourth weekly gain

Chicago | Reuters –– U.S. soybean futures fell on Friday on profit-taking but the benchmark Chicago Board of Trade November contract still recorded a fourth straight weekly advance, supported by firm cash markets and export demand.

CBOT wheat rose on short-covering and worries about dry conditions in Australia while corn closed modestly higher in rangebound trade.

Chicago Board of Trade November soybean futures settled down 7-1/4 cents at $9.68-3/4 per bushel, dropping back below the 50-day moving average (all figures US$).

CBOT December wheat ended up six cents at $4.49 a bushel and December corn ended up 1/2 cent at $3.54-3/4 a bushel.

Soybeans came off their lows after the National Oilseed Processors Association said its members crushed 142.42 million bushels of soybeans last month, the most for any August on record. The NOPA figure was above an average of trade expectations for 137.5 million bushels.

The NOPA data was not enough to turn futures higher for the day. But the CBOT November soybean contract nonetheless posted its fourth straight weekly gain.

Export demand lent support. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said private exporters sold 132,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China, the latest in a string of U.S. soybean sales announced this week.

And cash values for soybeans continued to firm at the U.S. Gulf, supported by exporters seeking soy for September loadings.

CBOT corn ended modestly higher on technical buying including short-covering. But rallies were capped by expectations of expanding harvest progress in the U.S. Midwest in the coming days.

“Drier weather in the eastern Midwest and Delta will favour corn and soybean drydown and early harvesting,” MDA Weather Services said in a note to clients.

Wheat futures firmed on technical buying and fears of dry weather hurting production prospects in Australia. The Australian government this week cut its estimate of the country’s 2017/18 wheat harvest to 21.64 million tonnes, an eight-year low.

The CBOT December wheat contract closed higher but was unable to break through chart resistance at Thursday’s one-month high of $4.50-1/2.

“It’s too dry in Australia and too wet in Argentina. They (commodity funds) are short. The market has shown some measure of rebound here. Having said that, we traded from $4.48 to $4.50 three times and can’t generate anything,” one Chicago trader said.

— Julie Ingwersen is a commodities correspondent for Reuters in Chicago. Additional reporting for Reuters by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris.

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