* Feed, export demand boost wheat after recent lows
* Weekly U.S. wheat export sales at two-year high
* Corn up for fifth time in six days
* Soybeans slide for third day on South America harvest
(Updates with closing prices, fund buying/selling)
By Karl Plume
CHICAGO, March 14 U.S. wheat futures rose for a
sixth straight session on Thursday on robust demand from
domestic livestock feeders and exporters, which booked their
biggest weekly sales in two years last week.
Corn prices climbed for the fifth time in six sessions,
supported by concerns about tight old-crop supplies and a weaker
U.S. dollar, which makes the grain more competitive on the world
Soybeans fell for a third straight session on South American
harvest pressure and concerns about slowing import demand from
top buyer China.
"The demand for wheat has picked back up. We had good, solid
wheat export numbers this morning. Corn and wheat are roughly on
par in value so we're seeing more wheat feeding and we're seeing
some wheat trickle into the ethanol market in the eastern corn
belt," said Karl Setzer, an analyst with MaxYield Cooperative.
"There's a little bit of the risk premium coming out of the
soybeans. There's not as much concern today as there was three
months ago over depleting soy inventories," he said.
Chicago Board of Trade May-delivery wheat rose 14-3/4
cents to a two-week high of $7.24-3/4 per bushel, a 2.1 percent
gain that was the strongest in two months. March futures
expired at noon at $7.14-1/4, up 7 cents.
May corn added 6-1/4 cents, or 0.9 percent, at
$7.16-1/2 a bushel, while May soybeans fell 11-1/2 cents,
or 0.8 percent, to $14.35-1/2 per bushel. March corn
expired 8-1/2 cents lower at $7.32-3/4 and March soy
expired at $14.57-1/4, down 17-3/4 cents.
Commodity funds bought an estimated net 8,000 corn contracts
and 4,000 wheat contracts on the day and sold a net 5,000
soybean contracts, trade sources said.
Weekly U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed a net
888,500 tonnes of wheat export sales for the current marketing
year and 198,500 tonnes for the next marketing year. Combined
sales were the largest for a single week since February 2011.
Russian plans to buy wheat on the domestic market from
August to October to replenish depleted stocks were also
supportive as the move could limit some competition for U.S.
wheat from low-cost Russian grain.
The rally in wheat has taken it away from its lowest level
in nine months, struck last week when prices fell on weak demand
and improved conditions in the drought-hit U.S. grain belt.
Demand for feed-grade wheat has firmed since then, following
corn's rise above wheat after the USDA pegged corn end-of-season
stocks for the 2012/13 year at a 17-year low.
U.S. soybean futures have come under pressure from a rapidly
advancing South American harvest. Traders said Brazilian beans
were now being offered at prices competitive enough to appeal to
traders, despite a backlog of shipments.
Brazilian dock workers postponed a 24-hour nationwide strike
planned for March 19 to allow more time to negotiate with the
government. The move eased concerns about worsening shipping
delays as Brazil aims to export its record-large crop.
Concern about slowing Chinese demand for soybean imports
also weighed on the market.
"We're seeing better movement of beans coming out of Brazil
and a sense of relief moving into the market," said Sterling
Smith, a futures specialist with Citigroup.
"I could see bean exports going the way of corn, drying up
rather dramatically and heading more to domestic use."
The U.S. soybean crush has already been strong. The National
Oilseed Processors Association's monthly crush data scheduled
for release on Friday was expected to show the crush in February
at 141.6 million bushels, according to a poll of seven analysts,
which would be the largest for the month since 2010.
Prices at 2:53 p.m. CDT (1953 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD
CHG CHG CHG
CBOT corn 716.50 6.25 0.9% 10.8%
CBOT soy 1435.50 -11.50 -0.8% 19.8%
CBOT meal 425.00 -3.90 -0.9% 37.4%
CBOT soyoil 49.34 -0.18 -0.4% -5.3%
CBOT wheat 724.75 14.75 2.1% 11.0%
CBOT rice 1454.00 -24.00 -1.6% -0.4%
EU wheat 234.75 1.75 0.8% 15.9%
US crude 93.04 0.52 0.6% -5.9%
Dow Jones 14,531 76 0.5% 18.9%
Gold 1587.90 0.61 0.0% 1.5%
Euro/dollar 1.3006 0.0046 0.4% 0.5%
Dollar Index 82.5830 -0.3060 -0.4% 3.0%
Baltic Freight 880 5 0.6% -49.4%
(Additional reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney, Gus Trompiz
in Paris; Editing by Dale Hudson and Maureen Bavdek)