GRAINS-Soy hits 5-1/2 month high; corn, wheat retreat

Wed Mar 14, 2012 4:36pm EDT

* Soy up on old-crop export demand amid S.America drought
    * Corn sinks on profit-taking after three days of gains
    * Early corn seeding amid mild weather seen boosting supply
    * Wheat sinks on lower corn, firm dollar

 (Adds price table)	
    By Karl Plume	
    CHICAGO, March 14 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures
climbed for a second consecutive session on Wednesday and hit a
5-1/2 month high as a drought-reduced South American crop and
port congestion was expected to bolster demand for thinning U.S.
supplies this summer.	
    Fund buying and chart-based buying above recent highs added
support at times, along with supportive U.S. soybean crushing
data released on Wednesday.	
    Corn and wheat were mostly lower, bucking support from
rising soybeans, amid a firmer U.S. dollar, which increases
costs for those buying dollar-denominated grains with other
currencies. Profit-taking in corn following three days of gains
also pressured the grain.	
    "The beans are leading the charge and there's more talk that
China is interested in getting some summer (U.S.) shipments,"
said Jack Scoville, analyst with The Price Group.	
    "The ports in South America look like they're going to be
full right through next month so we might continue to see
business come here (to the United States) and see this price
support," he added.	
    Soybeans remained underpinned by tightening supplies of the
oilseed following a drought in key producing countries in South
America.	
    Better-than-expected demand from U.S. soy processors last
month also added support as NOPA pegged the February crush at 
136.350 million bushels, below 142.813 million in January but
above an average of analysts' estimates for 134.5 million
bushels.  	
    "The crush number for February was above estimates and I
think USDA will have to raise their crush number by 10 million
in the April (USDA supply/demand) report and will raise the
export number 10 million," said Terry Reilly, analyst for
Citigroup.	
    The actively traded May soybean contract on the
Chicago Board of Trade added 1-1/2 cents, or 0.1 percent, to
settle at $13.50-1/4 a bushel after earlier climbing to
$13.60-3/4, a level last seen on Sept. 21. New-crop November
 was 1/2 cent lower at $13.11. The March futures contract
 expired on Wednesday at $13.56, up 7-1/4 cents.	
    Investment funds bought a net 3,000 soybean contracts on the
day while selling 6,000 corn and 2,000 wheat contracts, trade
sources said. 	
    	
    CORN TURNS DOWN	
    U.S. corn futures fell for the first time in four sessions
on Wednesday in a profit-taking setback amid a firm dollar and
following a run-up in prices that began on Friday as rumors of
Chinese import demand surfaced.	
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed a 240,000-tonne
sales to an unknown buyer on Tuesday, broadly believed to be
China, but no further sales have been confirmed.	
    Expectations for a big jump in corn seedings this year, some
of it at the expense of soy, added pressure. There have been
scattered reports of early corn seeding around the U.S. Corn
Belt this week amid record-breaking mild temperatures.	
    "When you get started planting corn this early, you do tend
to plant more acres. The bean market needs to buy some acres
back from corn," said Roy Huckabay, analyst with The Linn Group.	
    However, expectations for further demand from China due to
its strong domestic prices and low reserves limited declines in
corn.	
    A senior official at a state-run company said China's corn
imports should  more than double in the current 2011/12 crop
year to 4 million tonnes, while AgResource said these could rise
further to 6-8 million tonnes in 2012/13. 	
    CBOT May corn slipped 3-1/4 cents, or 0.5 percent, to
$6.58-3/4 a bushel while new-crop December fell 3-1/2
cents, or 0.6 percent to $5.64. The March contract expired
at $6.69-1.2 a bushel, down 4-1/2 cents.	
    CBOT May wheat shed 5-1/4 cents, or 0.8 percent, to
$6.43-3/4. March wheat expired at $6.51-3/4, up 1/4 cent.	
    	
 Prices at 3:25 p.m. CDT (2025 GMT)      
                              LAST      NET    PCT     YTD
                                        CHG    CHG     CHG
 CBOT corn                  658.75    -3.25  -0.5%    1.9%
 CBOT soy                  1350.25     1.50   0.1%   12.7%
 CBOT meal                  367.20     1.10   0.3%   18.7%
 CBOT soyoil                 54.80    -0.07  -0.1%    5.2%
 CBOT wheat                 643.75    -5.25  -0.8%   -1.4%
 CBOT rice                 1391.50   -42.00  -2.9%   -4.7%
 EU wheat                   210.75    -0.75  -0.4%    4.1%
 
 US crude                   105.67    -1.04  -1.0%    6.9%
 Dow Jones                  13,194       16   0.1%    8.0%
 Gold                      1643.04   -31.71  -1.9%    5.1%
 Euro/dollar                1.3025  -0.0051  -0.4%    0.6%
 Dollar Index              80.5630   0.3700   0.5%    0.5%
 Baltic Freight                855       11   1.3%  -50.8%
 	
 (Additional reporting by Mayank Bhardwaj in New Delhi, Gus
Trompiz in Paris, Sam Nelson in Chicago; editing by Jim Marshall
and David Gregorio)