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CHICAGO: US soybean futures were steady to mostly higher on Friday near an eight-month peak as some traders pocketed profits from strong gains this week, but the market remained underpinned by concerns about weather-reduced yields in South America.

Corn was also steady to firmer, while wheat futures rose in a short-covering and technical bounce following two days of declines.

Grain traders are beginning to square positions as they look ahead to next week’s US Department of Agriculture (USDA) crop supply and demand reports, which are expected to show tighter grain and oilseed supplies and smaller crops in Brazil and Argentina.

The market is watching for any increase in crop export demand from China as traders in the top corn and soy importing nation return from the Lunar New Year holiday.

“The market is trying to measure how much of these massive (South American) crop losses are dialled in to the market already ... We’ve had this massive run-up in prices and it’s kind of stalled out,” said Don Roose, president of US Commodities.

“But when we come out of the Lunar New Year holidays, we typically see pent-up buying coming out of Asia,” he added.

The USDA on Friday confirmed 295,000 tonnes in US soybean export sales to undisclosed buyers, the latest in a string of sales announcements this week.

Crop watchers have been cutting their South American corn and soy crop projections because of adverse weather, including drought, heat waves and excessive rains.

Chicago Board of Trade March soybeans rose 9-1/4 cents to $15.53-1/2 a bushel, ending up 5.7% in the week.

March corn added 3-3/4 cents to $6.20-1/2 a bushel but finished the week down 2.4%.

CBOT March wheat gained 11-1/2 cents to $7.63-1/4 a bushel, but was down 2.9% in the week.

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