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CHICAGO: US corn futures inched higher on Thursday, stabilizing from three-month lows set a day earlier, supported by worries that cool weather could slow the

maturity of the delayed US crop, analysts said.

Wheat rose on technical buying and better-than-expected weekly US export sales. But soybean futures declined, retreating from early strength on what appeared to be technical selling, analysts said.

At 12:30 p.m. CDT (1730 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade December corn was up 3/4 cent at $3.71 per bushel. December wheat was up 5-1/4 cents at $4.73-1/4 a bushel while November soybeans were down 5 cents at $8.68 a bushel.

Corn futures had bullish technical momentum after the December contract rallied from a three-month low to settle higher on Wednesday.

Also, temperatures in the Midwest are forecast as cooler than normal into September, a potential drag on production at a time when late-planted corn and soybean crops need warmth and sunshine.

"We need every GDD (growing degree day) we can get to bring these crops home, yet it's supposed to be kind of cool for the next week or two," said Jack Scoville, an analyst with the Price Futures Group in Chicago.

CBOT corn drew support from news that President Donald Trump planned to meet with Cabinet members on Thursday to discuss ways to boost demand for biofuels including corn-based ethanol. .

Trump's move was seen as "initiating damage control by looking into ways to soothe irate producers over his recent decision to grant unnecessary small refinery exemptions for the second year in a row, which has negatively impacted ethanol producers and all US corn and soybean producers," Dan Cekander, president of DC Analysis, wrote in a client note.

CBOT corn and soybeans firmed in early moves after the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop tour late Wednesday projected below-average crop prospects in Illinois, the top US soybean state and the No. 2 corn producer.

The crop tour wraps up in Minnesota on Thursday and editors of the Pro Farmer newsletter are expected to release US soybean and corn production estimates on Friday.

CBOT wheat futures climbed after the US Department of Agriculture reported wheat export sales in the week ended Aug. 15 at nearly 600,000 tonnes, topping trade expectations.

"The export sales are starting to pick up, so maybe we are finding some value here," Scoville said.

The USDA's report also showed that China bought a small volume of US soybeans last week, despite pledging to halt purchases of American farm products due to the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing.

Copyright Reuters, 2019