Soybean futures rose on Thursday on larger-than-expected weekly U.S. export sales and strength in the soymeal market, traders said.
Wheat fell for a fifth session and set a five-month low while corn sagged for a sixth day, hobbled by poor U.S. export demand.
At the Chicago Board of Trade as of 9:50 a.m. CST (1550 GMT), January soybeans were up 12-1/4 cents at $14.85-1/2 per bushel, their biggest rise in a week. The contract briefly traded above its 50-day moving average of $14.89. It has not settled above that average since Sept. 19.
CBOT March wheat was down 3-1/4 cents at $8.08-3/4 a bushel after falling to $8.07, dipping below its 200-day moving average for the first time since June 22. March corn was down 3-1/2 cents at $7.22 a bushel.
Soybeans rallied after the U.S. Department of Agriculture released a weekly report showing export sales of U.S. soybeans in the latest week at more than 1.3 million tonnes, well above trade expectations for 600,000 to 850,000 tonnes.
"We are using soybeans faster than we had anticipated. That's where we're getting our support," said Karl Setzer, a commodity trading adviser and market analyst with MaxYield Cooperative in West Bend, Iowa.
He noted that the USDA lowered its forecast of U.S. soybean ending stocks for 2012/13 in a monthly report this week to 130 million bushels, a nine-year low.
"Quite likely, we are going to see that drop even more in the future," Setzer said.
Exporters have been competing for U.S. soybean supplies with domestic soy processors, which have benefited from historically high profit margins from crushing soybeans into soymeal, a high-protein feed ingredient, and soyoil, used in foods and biodiesel.
The National Oilseed Processors Association is scheduled to release its estimate of the November U.S. soybean crush on Friday. Analysts generally expect an increase from NOPA's October figure of 153.5 million bushels, which was its highest monthly crush in nearly three years.
CBOT soymeal futures lent support to soybeans as well. The January contract broke above its 50-day moving average and touched a one-month high at $458.20 per ton before paring gains.
SLIDE IN GRAINS CONTINUES
The USDA's weekly export figure for wheat came in at 573,400 tonnes for the current and next marketing years, above trade estimates for 350,000 to 550,000 tonnes.
But after a brief rally following the export data, the market retreated and continued its slide after the USDA this week raised its estimates of U.S. and global wheat ending stocks above trade expectations. Wheat has lost more than 4 percent since Monday, the day before the report.
"If you look at the wheat market, it's been extremely range-bound over the last five months. Funds were long, so what we're seeing is a bit of technical selling and funds liquidating," said Paul Deane, agricultural economist at Australia and New Zealand Banking Group.
French-based Strategie Grains on Thursday raised its forecast for European Union soft wheat exports this season to 18.8 million tonnes, citing reduced supply from rival exporter Argentina and strong demand from Iran.