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CHICAGO: US wheat futures rose 1.6% on Thursday, supported by rising tensions between Ukraine and Russia and expectations that war between the two export countries could improve demand for US supplies, traders said.

Soybeans and corn futures dipped, but the losses were kept in check by concerns about harvest shortfalls in Brazil and Argentina.

At 11:00 a.m. CST (1641 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade March soft red winter wheat was up 12-3/4 cents at $7.93-1/4 a bushel.

“Wheat leads the ag sector higher this morning as traders worry that war may be imminent in Ukraine, which may shut down trade from the region,” Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist for brokerage StoneX, said in a note to clients.

“Prices are going higher on the fear that the world may need much more of our wheat if war breaks out in Ukraine.”

US President Joe Biden said on Thursday the threat of a Russian invasion of Ukraine is “very high” but the door to a diplomatic solution remains open.

Russian-backed rebels and Ukrainian forces traded accusations on Thursday of firing shells across the ceasefire line in eastern Ukraine.

CBOT March soybean futures were down 2-1/2 cents at $15.85 a bushel.

The contract was trading well off its highs after struggling to hold support above the psychological $16 threshold, which it had breached last week en route to a nine-month high. Strong export demand lent support to soy futures.

The US Agriculture Department said on Thursday morning that export sales of soybeans totalled 2.888 million tonnes in the week ended Feb. 10, up from 2.446 million a week earlier.

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