(Updates with closing prices, )
By Mark Weinraub
CHICAGO, Jan 9 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures firmed on Monday, settling up 1 percent on some concerns about rain in parts of Argentina curtailing crop production from the world’s third largest exporter of the oilseed, traders said.
Wheat futures also closed higher, with prices firming to their highest since Nov. 22. Corn futures ended in positive territory after weakening early in the session.
Moves in all three commodities were muted as traders were reluctant to place aggressive bets ahead of key U.S. Agriculture Department reports on supply and demand on Thursday.
Rains in central and northeastern Argentina threatened to flood soybean fields, but the latest forecasts called for improvements in the coming weeks, traders said.
”Watching South American weather, it is kind of a mixed picture,“ said Bill Gentry,” a broker at Risk Management Commodities. “There is not a lot of broad-based stress but maybe a couple of areas are getting too much moisture.”
Chicago Board of Trade March soybean futures rose 10-1/2 cents at $10.05-1/4 a bushel.
The market also received support from better-than-expected weekly export inspections data, which provided some relief after a disappointing report on global demand for U.S. supplies last week.
The USDA said on Monday morning that soybean export inspections totalled 1.457 million tonnes in the latest reporting week, exceeding the high end of trade forecasts that ranged from 1.1 million tonnes to 1.4 million tonnes.
CBOT March soft red winter wheat futures were up 4 cents at $4.27-1/4 a bushel. Prices peaked at $4.28-1/4.
Expectations for a cutback in seedings in places such as Kansas were providing support. The USDA will release its wheat plantings report on Thursday, along with monthly world crop forecasts, quarterly U.S. grain stock estimates and updated estimates on 2016 U.S. crop production.
“Wheat’s stocks situation is more than ample right now, but a more bullish production situation continues to be setting up for 2017,” Matt Zeller, director of market information at INTL FCStone, said in a note to clients.
Concerns about wheat production in Europe also lent support due to deep frosts forecast in Black Sea grain-exporting countries Romania, Bulgaria, Russia and Ukraine.
The weather risks have helped the wheat market find a footing after swelling global supplies pushed prices to a 10-year low during 2016.
CBOT March corn futures were 2 cents higher at $3.60 a bushel. (Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris; Editing by Greg Mahlich and Jonathan Oatis)