(Updates with closing prices, adds soybean sale)
By Mark Weinraub
CHICAGO, Sept 29 U.S. soybean futures firmed on
Thursday on a mild round of bargain buying and short-covering
ahead of a key government report on Friday, traders said.
Signs of strong export demand for the oilseed also lent
support to soybean futures but gains were kept in check by
reports of good yields from fields in the western part of the
U.S. Midwest as harvest ramped up.
Wheat futures fell on a technical setback amid ample global
supplies. Corn futures ended unchanged as traders squared
positions ahead of the U.S. Agriculture Department's closely
watched quarterly stocks report on Friday.
"Nobody wants to really make a commitment one way or the
other," said Bill Gentry, a broker at Risk Management
Commodities in Lafayette, Indiana.
Chicago Board of Trade November soybean futures
settled up 4-3/4 cents at $9.50-1/4 a bushel.
USDA on Thursday morning reported export sales of U.S.
soybeans in the latest week at 1,692,900 tonnes, topping a range
of trade expectations for 1.1 million to 1.3 million.
Additionally, USDA on Thursday morning said that exporters
reported the sale of another 120,000 tonnes of soybeans to
China for delivery in the 2016/17 marketing year. That followed
announcements of other deals with the world's top buyer of the
oilseed earlier this week.
"Soybeans are edging higher .... but it's hard to get any
big rally in prices because of plentiful supplies," said Phin
Ziebell, agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank.
CBOT December corn futures were unchanged at $3.29-1/4
USDA said export sales of corn totaled just 575,000 tonnes,
below a range of trade expectations for 750,000 to 950,000
tonnes. The bearish figure hung over the corn market throughout
the trading day.
CBOT December soft red winter wheat futures ended down
4-1/4 cents at $3.99 a bushel. The contract firmed during
overnight trading but hit resistance as it neared its 30-day
moving average, a level it has not traded above since Aug. 22.
Rains could continue slowing harvesting of corn and soybeans
in the eastern Midwest up to the weekend, but the west of the
crop belt looks dry until at least Tuesday, the Commodity
Weather Group said in a daily note.
(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus
Trompiz in Paris; Editing by David Evans and Tom Brown)