GRAINS-Soybeans near three-week high on U.S. weather concerns

* New-crop November soy up 4.6 percent for the week
    * Rains slow late soybean planting in eastern Midwest
    * New-crop corn lower on profit-taking, spreading vs. beans
    * Wheat mostly firm on short-covering ahead of USDA report

 (Updates with closing prices; adds analyst comment)
    By Julie Ingwersen
    CHICAGO, July 10 (Reuters) - U.S. new-crop soybean futures
rose to a nearly three-week high on Wednesday on worries about
planting delays and potentially stressful crop weather, traders
    Corn futures ended mixed with new-crop December edging
lower, while wheat was mostly higher.
    At the Chicago Board of Trade, new-crop November soybeans
ended up 8-1/2 cents at $12.84-3/4 per bushel. The contract broke through its 200-day moving average at $12.84 and peaked at $12.95, its highest level since June 20, before paring gains. November soy has risen 4.6 percent this week, after settling Friday at $12.28-1/4. September corn ended up 2 cents at $5.53-3/4 a bushel while benchmark December fell 1/4 cent at $5.21-1/2. September wheat rose 1-1/2 cents to $6.79. New-crop soybeans led the way up on concern about prospects for the U.S. harvest. Weather this summer has been mostly favorable for the soybean crop, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture has rated about two-thirds of the crop as good to excellent. But the crop is developing more slowly than normal after a cool, wet spring. And some acres have yet to be planted - especially in the eastern Midwest, where farmers typically plant so-called "double-crop" soybeans immediately after harvesting winter wheat, in the same fields. Rains have slowed the region's soft red wheat harvest, in turn stalling soybeans. The USDA last month projected U.S. soybean plantings at 77.7 million acres and indicated that 10 percent would be planted after another crop. "It's getting so late in the year ... to double-crop that
soybean acreage estimates are going to be trimmed," said Ken Smithmier, an analyst with the Hightower Group in Chicago. "The crop is behind in a lot of areas, and we still have a threat of an early frost. It's tough to be negative toward that market, when you mix that in with the old-crop support that we've had," Smithmier said. The market is closely watching demand in China, the world's largest soybean buyer, which imported 6.93 million tonnes of soybeans in June, up 35.9 percent from May. "Soybean prices have also been finding support from June's Chinese soybean import figures," Commerzbank said. "Import activity had long been hampered by delayed deliveries from Brazil. These problems have now been resolved." Supplies of old-crop soybeans remaining from the last U.S. harvest are extremely tight, a factor that sent the front July futures contract soaring to a contract high on Tuesday at $16.30 a bushel. The thinly traded contract is in delivery and expires on Friday. However, the July plunged 21-1/2 cents on Wednesday to settle at $15.91-3/4, a possible sign that cash markets are starting to loosen ahead of the autumn harvest. The cash soybean basis fell by 20 cents at a soy processing plant at Council Bluffs, Iowa.
NEW-CROP CORN LOSES GROUND TO SOYBEANS Old-crop U.S. corn supplies are also scarce, a factor that lifted nearby July and September corn futures. But new-crop December, the most active contract, fell on profit-taking after rising 4 percent on Tuesday. December corn also lost ground to soybeans on inter-market spreads tied to weather worries, with forecasters predicting hot and dry conditions later this month in the western Midwest. "There is a feeling that if it does dry out, it is going to hurt beans more than corn. So you've got people buying beans and selling corn," said Roy Huckabay with the Linn Group, a Chicago brokerage. As well, traders were adjusting positions ahead of the USDA's July 11 monthly supply/demand report, which is expected to show smaller projected stockpiles of U.S. corn for both 2012/13 and 2013/14. CBOT September wheat rose for a third straight session on short-covering ahead of USDA's report and following recent sales of U.S. wheat to China. Prices at 3:16 p.m. CDT (2016 GMT) LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG CBOT corn 553.75 2.00 0.4% -20.7% CBOT soy 1464.75 -3.50 -0.2% 3.2% CBOT meal 449.70 0.80 0.2% 6.9% CBOT soyoil 47.02 0.00 0.0% -4.4% CBOT wheat 679.00 2.00 0.3% -12.7% CBOT rice 1529.00 9.50 0.6% 2.9% EU wheat 197.75 1.00 0.5% -21.0% US crude 106.09 2.56 2.5% 15.5% Dow Jones 15,292 -9 -0.1% 16.7% Gold 1251.40 2.56 0.2% -25.3% Euro/dollar 1.2889 0.0109 0.9% -2.3% Dollar Index 84.0090 -0.5690 -0.7% 5.3% Baltic Freight 1130 10 0.9% 61.7% (Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Keiron Henderson, John Wallace and Jim Marshall)

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