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GRAINS-Soybeans firm on South American crop worries

CANBERRA, March 12 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures edged higher on Friday as concerns about crops in South America stoked worries over global supplies.

FUNDAMENTALS

* The most-active soybean futures on the Chicago Board Of Trade were up 0.1% to $14.14-1/2 a bushel by 0152 GMT, having closed up 0.3% on Thursday when prices earlier hit a March 3 low of $14.00-3/4 a bushel.

* Soybeans are down 1.5% for the week, the first weekly loss in five and the biggest seven-day slide in nearly two months.

* Corn futures down more than 1.5% for the week, the second straight weekly fall.

* Wheat futures down more than 1.5% for the week, the second straight weekly loss.

* Weekend storms are set to soak the U.S. Plains wheat belt, much of which has endured dry conditions for several months.

* The region’s winter wheat is just starting its key spring growth phase, when the crop’s need for water increases.

* Uncertainty about the South American crop prospects lent support.

* The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange lowered its estimates of Argentina’s soybean harvest to 44 million tonnes and its corn forecast to 45 million tonnes, below its previous forecasts of 46 million tonnes for each crop, citing dry conditions.

MARKET NEWS

* The safe-haven dollar languished near a one-week low on Friday as calming bond markets lifted investor sentiment and appetite for Asian currencies.

* Brent crude prices eased but hovered near $70 a barrel as production cuts by major oil producers constrained supply, with optimism about a recovery in demand for the resource in the second half of the year also lending support.

* Asian stocks were set for a strong start, following firm overnight leads from Wall Street and Europe as a further retreat in bond yields eased concerns about rampant inflation, restoring appetite for battered tech stocks

Reporting by Colin Packham; editing by Uttaresh.V

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