GRAINS-Wheat rises 1.2 percent; corn, soy ease

* Wheat firms on weather concerns, exports
    * Soybean prices fall from nine-month high

 (Recasts, updates with U.S. trading, adds new analyst comment,
changes byline, dateline)
    By Mark Weinraub
    CHICAGO, April 17 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures rose 1.2
percent on Thursday, supported by concerns that a recent cold
snap in key growing areas damaged some of the developing crop,
traders said.
    "The weather concerns are centered around hard wheat, and
you've had a freeze event at the beginning of the week. The
thing is, you don't see that damage right away," said Terry Linn
of the Linnn Group, a Chicago brokerage. "You need to wait until the crop gets farther along to be able to tell." Wheat also received support from better-than-expected export sales in a weekly U.S. government report. Corn and soybeans eased, with soy setting back on some mild profit taking after bigger-than-expected crush data sparked a rally that pushed prices to a nine-month high earlier in the week. Corn prices fell through key support points on expectations that warming weather will allow farmers to pick up their pace of planting during the next week. Traders noted some end-of-week position squaring in all three commodities. The Chicago Board of Trade will be closed on Friday for the Good Friday holiday. Trading resumes on Sunday at 7 p.m. CDT (0000 GMT) CBOT May soft red winter wheat was up 8-1/4 cents at $6.96-1/4 a bushel at 11:34 a.m. CDT (1634 GMT). K.C. May hard red winter wheat, which tracks the crop in the U.S. Plains, was up 10 cents at $7.64-1/2 a bushel. The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Thursday morning that weekly export sales of wheat for the 2013/14 crop year were 438,000 tonnes, topping forecasts ranging from 50,000 to 250,000 tonnes.
CBOT wheat futures have risen 5.4 percent so far this week. CBOT soybeans for May delivery shed 4-1/2 cents to $15.14-1/4 a bushel while May corn dipped 3-1/2 cents to $4.94 a bushel. For the week, soybeans have risen 3.5 percent and were on track for their biggest weekly gain in nine weeks. Corn has fallen 0.9 percent during the week. "Soybeans continue to be supported by the U.S. crushing data that came out a few days ago, while the continuing strong export demand is also contributing," said Vanessa Tan, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore. USDA said that old-crop soybean export sales totaled 19,200 tonnes, within market expectations. For weeks, traders have been bracing for a report that showed large cancellations from China, the world's top buyer of the oilseed. Chinese buyers may default on a further 1.2 million tonnes of soybeans worth about $900 million being shipped from the United States and South America, to avoid incurring huge losses in a depressed local market, the country's top soy buyer said. Prices at 11:37 a.m. CDT (1637 GMT) LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG CBOT corn 494.00 -3.50 -0.7% 17.1% CBOT soy 1513.50 -5.25 -0.4% 15.3% CBOT meal 487.30 -3.70 -0.8% 11.3% CBOT soyoil 43.56 -0.15 -0.3% 12.2% CBOT wheat 695.50 7.50 1.1% 14.9% CBOT rice 1535.00 -3.50 -0.2% -1.0% EU wheat 217.00 -1.50 -0.7% 3.8%
US crude 104.14 0.43 0.4% 5.8% Dow Jones 16,402 -23 -0.1% -1.1% Gold 1297.29 -5.11 -0.4% 7.6% Euro/dollar 1.3813 -0.0001 0.0% 1.2% Dollar Index 79.8450 0.0420 0.1% -0.2% Baltic Freight 930 -6 -0.6% -59.2% 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. (Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago and Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by Marguerita Choy)

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