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PARIS/MANILA: Chicago soybean futures were little changed on Friday, stabilising after a one-week low in the previous session as participants assessed rain forecasts in drought-hit Argentina and demand prospects in top importer China.

Corn and wheat ticked lower.

Traders were awaiting the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s weekly export sales report later on Friday for an update on overseas demand.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was up 0.1% at $15.16 a bushel by 1214 GMT, holding above Thursday’s one-week low.

CBOT corn was down 0.5% at $6.73-3/4 a bushel while wheat eased 0.4% to $7.31-1/2 a bushel.

“Argentina is still the core focus of the market,” Huatai Futures analysts said in a note.

Soybean hits 7-month high on Argentina supply concerns

Significant rainfall forecast in the rest of January could avert further drought losses to Argentina’s soybean and corn crops, after analysts already slashed production estimates.

Expectations for a record-large soy crop in Brazil, which may hasten a seasonal shift in export demand away from U.S. supplies, have also capped Chicago futures.

But investor optimism about an economic upturn in China, as the country sheds strict measures to counter COVID-19, were lending support to soybean and wider commodity markets.

Immediate demand from China may be limited, though, by the Lunar New Year holiday period.

Investors are also awaiting further pointers on U.S. interest rate policy to gauge global economic prospects while policymakers try to rein in inflation.

In wheat, expectations of a jump in U.S. wheat planting have taken attention away from drought and cold spells.

“Wheat remains penalised by the increase in the U.S. acreage this year,” consultancy Agritel said.

Competition from Russian exports also hung over the wheat market, with concern over fresh export restrictions allayed by the Russian agriculture ministry saying on Thursday there were no plans to reduce a grain export quota.

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