GRAINS-Corn firms, soybeans hit 7-wk high on tight stocks

SYDNEY, May 17 (Reuters) - U.S. corn rose for the first time
in four sessions on Friday as investors looked for bargains
after expectations that sowing would rapidly accelerate on
forecasts of dry weather weighed earlier in the week.
    Despite falling for much of the week, corn is set to finish
the week up 1 percent as the record slow pace of planting
underpinned the market.
    Old-crop soybeans hit a seven-week high on Friday,
underpinned by tight stocks.    
    * Chicago Board of Trade July corn rose 0.19 percent
to $6.42-3/4 a bushel, having closed down 1.4 percent in the
previous session. * Corn is on course to finish the week up nearly 1 percent, rebounding from losses of almost 4 percent in the previous week. * July soybeans climbed 0.14 percent to $14.29-1/2 a bushel, having firmed 1 percent on Thursday. * Soybeans earlier hit a session peak of $14.34-1/2 a bushel, the highest since March 28. * Soybeans are set to finish the week up 2.2 percent, the biggest weekly climb in five weeks. * July wheat was little changed at $6.87-1/2 a bushel, having closed down 0.87 percent on Thursday. * Wheat is on track finish the week down nearly 2.5 percent, its second straight weekly loss. * Farmers in the Midwest have been planting frantically this week, taking advantage of mostly sunny skies to catch up after a historically slow start this spring. * Corn gains were capped by disappointing weekly export sales data. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported corn export sales for the 2012/13 and 2013/14 marketing years at 258,500 tonnes, a 10-week low. * Soybeans were led higher by nearby contracts on strength from the U.S. cash market. Domestic soy processors continue to pay historically high basis levels to draw out the last of the 2012 soybean harvest from the country. * Wheat sold-off on Thursday after weekly U.S. wheat export
sales totalled 540,700 tonnes, a three-week low. * Wheat is also under pressure from some forecasts for much-needed rain in Russia, where dry conditions are threatening crop prospects. * However, Russia's state forecaster said hot and dry weather would persist in the coming days, with a high possibility of wildfires in the Southern Federal District, the country's main wheat exporting region. * Argentina's 2013/14 wheat area is expected to be 3.9 million hectares, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said in its weekly report on Thursday, unchanged from its previous forecast for the upcoming season. MARKET NEWS * Japanese shares slipped and Asian equities were broadly steady on Friday after a U.S. Federal Reserve official said the central bank may begin to taper its asset buying this summer, lending support to the dollar. DATA/EVENTS (GMT) 1355 U.S. TR/U Michigan sentiment index 1400 U.S. Leading indicators Grains prices at 0032 GMT Contract Last Change Pct chg Two-day chg MA 30 RSI CBOT wheat 687.50 -0.25 -0.04% -3.27% 707.38 39 CBOT corn 642.75 1.25 +0.19% -1.49% 635.96 33 CBOT soy 1429.50 2.00 +0.14% +1.04% 1374.51 40 CBOT rice $15.25 -$0.04 -0.23% -0.78% $15.46 55 WTI crude $95.05 -$0.11 -0.12% +0.80% $92.87 51 Currencies Euro/dlr $1.289 $0.000 -0.01% -0.26% USD/AUD 0.982 -0.007 -0.74% -0.66% Most active contracts Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel. Rice: USD per hundredweight RSI 14, exponential (Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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