GRAINS-Corn firms as rains expected to slow planting, soy hits 7-week top

* Corn rises for first time in four sessions
    * Soybeans hit 7-week high on tight stocks
    * Wheat little changed after sharp losses in previous

    By Colin Packham
    SYDNEY, May 17 (Reuters) - U.S. corn rose on Friday for the
first time in four sessions as wet weather was forecast across
the Midwest, dimming prospects for the pace of sowing to pick up
sufficiently before being halted by downpours.
    Old-crop soybeans hit a seven-week high on tight stocks,
while wheat was little changed after falling nearly 1 percent in
the previous session.
Chicago Board of Trade December corn, the most actively traded contract, rose almost 0.4 percent to $5.26 a bushel by 0246 GMT, having slid nearly 1.5 percent in the previous session. Spot corn rose 0.3 percent to $6.43-1/2 a bushel, having closed Thursday down 1.4 percent. "The market was expecting corn plantings to be up to 65 percent complete by Sunday, so if there is rain, it will slow planting and be a real concern for yield potential," said Andrew Woodhouse, a grains analyst at Advance Trading Australasia. July soybeans rose 0.5 percent to $14.35-1/4 a bushel, the highest since March 28. July wheat was little changed at $6.87-1/4 a bushel after falling 0.9 percent in the previous session. WEATHER OUTLOOK Corn had come under pressure for much of this week as dry weather had buoyed expectations that U.S. farmers would rapidly advance sowing. But forecasts suggest progress will be slowed by rain across much of the U.S. Midwest in the next few days. The U.S. National Weather Service said rains would hit some parts of the Midwest on Friday, spreading throughout the corn belt over the weekend. Corn plantings had fallen to record lows in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's most recent progress report, but
analysts expect a government plantings report next week to show between 55 percent and 65 percent of corn areas have been planted, up from 28 percent seeded last week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported total corn exports at 258,500 tonnes, a 10-week low, capping gains, analysts said. Soybeans continued to firm, drawing strength from tight U.S. stocks, with the oilseed on course to finish the week up 2.5 percent, its biggest climb in five weeks. Wheat was little changed on Friday, despite continued pressure from the tepid pace of U.S. exports, although the outlook for the global crop remains uncertain. U.S. wheat exports fell to a three-week low, totalling 540,700 tonnes. Badly needed rains are forecast for the Russian crop, though dry and hot weather will persist in key farming regions, Russia's state forecaster said, threatening yield losses. Grains prices at 0246 GMT Contract Last Change Pct chg Two-day chg MA 30 RSI CBOT wheat 687.25 -0.50 -0.07% -3.31% 707.37 37 CBOT corn 643.50 2.00 +0.31% -1.38% 635.98 34 CBOT soy 1435.25 7.75 +0.54% +1.45% 1374.70 42 CBOT rice $15.21 -$0.07 -0.46% -1.01% $15.46 50 WTI crude $94.98 -$0.18 -0.19% +0.72% $92.87 50 Currencies Euro/dlr $1.286 -$0.003 -0.21% -0.46% USD/AUD 0.976 -0.014 -1.40% -1.32% Most active contracts Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel. Rice: USD per hundredweight RSI 14, exponential (Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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