* Good exports, s. hemisphere crop worries underpin wheat
* Funds adjust positions in corn, wheat ahead of holiday
* Soybeans ease after Friday jump
(Updates prices, adds analyst comment, previous dateline PARIS/SYDNEY)
By Rod Nickel
WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Nov 25 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat futures climbed on
Monday to a two-week high as worries about harvests in Argentina and Australia
bolstered potential demand for U.S. wheat.
Chicago Board of Trade corn also rose, as funds covered part of their short
positions in corn and wheat ahead of Thursday's Thanksgiving holiday. Soybeans
dipped on profit-taking and pressure from weaker crude oil prices.
"Funds have (previously) been heavy sellers in the wheat pit and they're
sitting relatively short on corn, so we're seeing a bit of buying, because CBOT
will be closed on Thursday, short day on Friday," said Karl Setzer, market
analyst at MaxYield Co-op in West Bend, Iowa.
"We're just seeing fund positioning more than anything," he said, adding
that trading volumes were thin.
Improving competitiveness of U.S. wheat, as suggested by strong weekly
export data last week, and worries about weather damage in key
exporters Argentina and Australia have helped stir Chicago futures.
"The gains are being driven by the rising competitiveness of U.S. wheat,"
said Vanessa Tan, investment analyst at Phillip Futures Singapore.
"Previously, you have seen tenders bypassing U.S. wheat, but now with
Australia for one seeing unfavorable weather conditions, this could shift demand
to the U.S."
Unseasonal rains in Western Australia and frost on the country's east coast
have hit wheat crops in the world's No. 2 exporter of the grain, dragging down
quality and reducing harvests.
Elsewhere, the Rosario Grains Exchange last week forecast Argentina's wheat
crop at 9.1 million tonnes in its first estimate of the season, well below the
11-million-tonne view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A limited surplus in Argentina could open the way for more U.S. exports to
Brazil, which has already been a major draw on U.S. wheat so far this season.
Chicago Board of Trade December wheat rose 0.7 percent, or 4-3/4
cents, to $6.54-1/4 a bushel, climbing for a third straight session as of at
9:20 a.m. CST (1520 GMT). It earlier reached $6.55, a front-month level
last reached on Nov. 11.
A stronger dollar curbed Chicago prices by making them more expensive
internationally. Crude oil was pressured by reaction to a weekend diplomatic
deal over Iran's nuclear program.
Iran has been a big importer of wheat in the past year and there was no
immediate direct impact from the nuclear deal on grain prices. But Iranian
private buyers are inquiring about buying around 300,000 tonnes or more of
milling wheat, European traders said.
CBOT January soybeans eased 0.3 percent, or 4-1/2 cents, to $13.15 a
bushel, having closed up 2.2 percent on Friday in a demand-fuelled rally.
Exporters sold 120,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to unknown destinations for
2014/15 delivery, the U.S. Agriculture Department said on Monday.
The USDA on Friday confirmed sales of 115,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to
China, after reporting on Thursday weekly soybean sales well above expectations
at nearly 1.4 million tonnes.
But a large U.S. soybean harvest that is winding down, plus prospects for
big South American crops were acting as a brake on prices.
"Favourable weather forecasts for Brazil and Argentina are shifting the
focus back to the forthcoming supply from South America ... and are thus causing
prices to fall this morning," Commerzbank analysts said in a note.
CBOT December corn added 0.5 percent, or 2-1/4 cents, at $4.24-1/2 a
bushel, picking up support from a strong U.S. cash market, Setzer said.
Prices at 9:20 a.m. CST (1520 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD
CHG CHG CHG
CBOT corn 424.50 2.25 0.5% -39.2%
CBOT soy 1315.00 -4.50 -0.3% -7.3%
CBOT meal 426.90 -0.90 -0.2% 1.5%
CBOT soyoil 41.05 -0.11 -0.3% -16.5%
CBOT wheat 654.25 4.75 0.7% -15.9%
CBOT rice 1574.50 3.00 0.2% 6.0%
EU wheat 207.75 1.25 0.6% -17.0%
US crude 93.84 -1 -1.1% 2.2%
Dow Jones 16,087 22 0.1% 22.8%
Gold 1240.80 -2.19 -0.2% -25.9%
Euro/dollar 1.3492 -0.0066 -0.5% 2.3%
Dollar Index 80.9990 0.2910 0.4% 1.5%
(Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney;
Editing by Marguerita Choy)