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SINGAPORE: Chicago soybeans were largely flat on Thursday, but on track for their biggest monthly gain since February 2022, supported by strong U.S. export demand and fears that dry weather is damaging the crop at a key stage of development.

Corn and wheat were on track to end August lower, with wheat set for its biggest monthly loss since last November amid plentiful supplies from top exporter Russia.

“The weather in the U.S. will continue to move soybean markets in the coming month,” said Dennis Voznesenski, senior grains analyst at Rabobank.

“Harvest pressure in the northern hemisphere continues to weigh on global wheat markets. Russia’s strong wheat export pace in particular following last years record crop and now a large new crop will continue weighing on markets in the short term.”

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was roughly unchanged at $13.86-1/4 a bushel by 0212 GMT, and up around 4.1% this month.

CBOT corn rose 0.5% to $4.83 a bushel, but lost 5.8% so far this month, the largest monthly fall since June. Wheat fell 0.5% to $6.04-1/4 a bushel and was down more than 9% in August.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Wednesday confirmed private sales of 266,000 metric tons of U.S. new-crop soybeans to unknown destinations, having reported similar-sized sales on both Monday and Tuesday.

Traders estimated U.S. soybean export sales for the week ended Aug. 24 in the range of 650,000 to 1.7 million metric tons. USDA data is expected at 0730 a.m. CDT (1230 GMT).

Export activity and hot, dry weather in the United States pushed soybean futures to a one-month high of $14.10 on Monday.

More dry weather is expected, but U.S. government data on Monday showed that soybeans had suffered less damage than feared.

U.S. stockpiles have tightened and traders say low water levels on the Mississippi River could slow movement of crops to export terminals, but global soybean supplies remain ample.

Deliveries against CBOT September soy futures should be light on Thursday, the first notice day, traders and analysts said. Low deliveries tend to support prices.

Cheap Russian wheat remains plentiful, adding pressure on prices.

Russia’s foreign ministry said the Russian and Turkish foreign ministers would discuss a Russian proposal for an alternative to the Black Sea grain deal this week.

Meanwhile, Ukraine’s grain exports for the 2023/24 July-June season reached 4.34 million metric tons by Aug. 30, up from 3.96 million tons last year.

A Farm Futures magazine survey of U.S. planting intentions for 2024 found that growers expect to increase their soybean and wheat plantings while reducing corn.

Egypt’s state grains buyer has bought 240,000 metric tons of wheat - half of it French, half Romanian - in an international tender. European wheat rose 1%.

Meanwhile, an unusually dry August has taken a toll on cereal and oilseed crops in Asia, with wheat output forecasts revised lower in Australia.

Commodity funds were net sellers of Chicago soybeans, soyoil, corn and soymeal futures and net buyers of wheat on Wednesday, traders said.

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