GRAINS-Wheat, corn rise on bargain buying; exports weigh on soy

(Recasts, adds U.S. trading, new analyst quote, dateline,
    * Wheat rises after five losing sessions; corn also firm
    * Gains capped by firm dollar after Fed trims bond buying
    * Poor export sales pressure soybeans

    By Mark Weinraub
    CHICAGO, Dec 19 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat and corn futures
edged higher on Thursday, with wheat bouncing from an 18-month
low, spurred by a round of bargain buying and short-covering
following recent declines, traders said.
    "We have been down pretty hard and we are at the bottom of
the trading range," said Bill Gentry, a broker at Risk
Management Commodities. "This is just a little bit of a recovery. I do not see much more than that." Soybean futures traded lower as a poor U.S. government report on exports of both soybeans and soymeal weighed. "If we are seeing a big slowdown in export demand for meal, and it appears we are as South American supplies are not that far off, this could prove to be hard on the entire grain room," Sterling Smith, futures specialist at Citigroup, said in a note to clients. The benchmark Chicago Board of Trade March soft red winter wheat contract rose 5-1/2 cents to $6.18-1/4 a bushel by 9:57 a.m. CST (1557 GMT). The 0.9 percent gain snapped a five-session losing streak and put wheat on track for its biggest daily rise since Nov. 19. CBOT March corn was up 3-3/4 cents at $4.28-3/4 a bushel and CBOT January soybeans were 7 cents lower at $13.17 a bushel. Soybeans were finding technical support at their 30-day moving average, a level the January contract has not fallen below since Nov. 21. Corn was facing resistance at the mid-point of their 20-day Bollinger range. The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Thursday morning
that export sales of corn for the 2013/14 marketing year were 827,100 tonnes in the latest reporting week, topping forecasts for 550,000 to 750,000 tonnes. Wheat export sales of 656,100 tonnes also topped the range of trade expectations while soybean export sales of 415,500 tonnes fell below the low end of analysts' estimates for 700,000 to 900,000 tonnes. Soymeal export sales were a marketing year low of 77,100 tonnes, below expectations for 150,000 to 300,000 tonnes. A broad rise in the dollar after the Federal Reserve's decision on Wednesday to trim its aggressive bond-buying program curbed buying in corn and wheat as it made U.S.-priced commodities more expensive internationally. Prices at 9:57 a.m. CST (1557 GMT) LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG CBOT corn 428.75 3.75 0.9% -38.6% CBOT soy 1317.00 -7.00 -0.5% -7.2% CBOT meal 438.20 -3.00 -0.7% 4.2% CBOT soyoil 39.14 0.08 0.2% -20.4% CBOT wheat 617.75 5.00 0.8% -20.6% CBOT rice 1534.00 7.50 0.5% 3.2% EU wheat 208.50 1.00 0.5% -16.7% US crude 98.30 0.5 0.5% 7.1% Dow Jones 16,154 -14 -0.1% 23.3% Gold 1196.70 -20.92 -1.7% -28.5% Euro/dollar 1.3661 -0.0022 -0.2% 3.5% Dollar Index 80.6400 0.5350 0.7% 1.1% Baltic Freight 2134 -22 -1.0% 205.3% In U.S. cents, benchmark contracts, except EU wheat (euros) and soymeal (dollars). CBOT wheat, corn and soybeans per bushel, rice per hundredweight, soymeal per ton and soyoil per lb. (Reporting by Mark Weinraub; Editing by Meredith Mazzilli)

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