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CHICAGO: US soybean futures sank to a one-week low on Friday and corn fell more than 1% as traders focused on improving prospects for South American harvests, analysts said.

Wheat fell 2% on profit-taking and slowing global export trade.

Chicago Board of Trade March soybeans settled down 13-3/4 cents at $12.09-1/4 per bushel after dipping to $12.08-1/2, the contract’s lowest since Jan. 18.

CBOT March corn ended down 5-1/2 cents at $4.46-1/4 a bushel and March wheat fell 12 cents to settle at $6.00-1/4 a bushel. Outlooks for large soy and corn crops in Argentina and optimism about Brazil’s harvest set the tone.

The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange on Thursday raised its estimate of Argentina’s soybean crop to 52.5 million metric tons, up about 1% from its previous forecast, and pegged the corn crop at 56.5 million tons, up nearly 3%.

Given weather forecasts for welcome rains in Argentina early next month after a dry spell, “I think you will see bigger increases down the road,” said Mark Soderberg, a market analyst with ADM Investor Services.

Falling cash prices for Brazilian soybeans added pressure. “You are seeing big drops in soybean basis levels in Brazil as confidence in their crop grows, so that makes US (soy) less competitive,” Soderberg said.

CBOT wheat futures fell, retreating after the most-active March contract rose in six of the last seven trading sessions on technical buying and short-covering. The rally appeared to have cooled international export demand for wheat after a flurry of purchases at mid-month.

“There has been very little global trade here this week ... So we have pulled back,” Soderberg said. Meanwhile, Chinese customs authorities included Argentine companies in its list of those approved to export wheat to China for the first time, the Argentine government said, potentially opening up sales from the world’s No. 7 wheat exporter to the huge Asian market. Soil moisture has improved in the US Plains and Midwest.

The US Department of Agriculture said 22% of the US winter wheat crop was located in a drought area as of Jan. 23, a drop from 27% the previous week and 59% a year ago.

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