* Soybeans and corn set for weekly gains
* Brazil soy exports seen picking up after delays
(Adds quote, updates prices)
By Nigel Hunt
LONDON, March 3 Chicago soybean futures were
lower on Friday as the market's focus returned to an improving
crop outlook in South America, halting a run-up driven partly by
shipment delays in Brazil.
Corn also eased, though it was set for a weekly gain on
expectations of higher ethanol production in the United States,
while wheat dipped for a second session.
The Chicago Board of Trade's most-active soybean contract
was down 0.2 percent at $10.35-1/2 a bushel by 1155 GMT
but remained on track for a weekly gain of 1.1 percent after two
weeks of losses.
At least 11 ships are facing delays in loading soybeans at
Brazil's northern ports after rains washed out roads and
disrupted the progress of trucks carrying beans from the
centre-west region, Brazilian officials said on Thursday.
"The export flow may pick up again next week, provided
weather conditions have allowed enough road repairs to take
place," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at
Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
Soybeans came under pressure as estimates of Brazil's soy
harvest continued to rise. Private analytics firm Informa
Economics raised its forecast of Brazil's crop to a record 108
million tonnes, trade sources said, up nearly 2 million tonnes
from its previous estimate.
The figure is above the last monthly estimate from Brazil's
government agency Conab, which put the crop at 105.6 million
tonnes, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's figure of 104
Growing conditions in Argentina's main soy belt were helped
over the previous seven days by showers in areas that had
suffered from a lack of ground moisture, the Buenos Aires Grains
exchange said in its weekly crop report on Thursday.
Soybean and corn futures rose earlier this week, supported
in part by reports of potential changes to U.S. biofuel policy
to boost production. Corn is the primary U.S. feedstock for
ethanol and soyoil is used in biodiesel.
"The biofuel rumours in the U.S. have thrown uncertainty and
confusion back into the market. They come as U.S. farmers are
deciding which spring crops to grow," said David Sheppard,
managing director at UK merchant Gleadell.
CBOT's most-active corn contract was down 0.3 percent
at $3.78-1/2 a bushel but on track for a 4 percent weekly gain.
Wheat prices eased, weighed partly by an improving crop
outlook in the Black Sea region.
CBOT's most active wheat contract was down 0.8 percent
at $4.49 a bushel while May milling wheat futures in Paris
fell 0.7 percent to $176 a tonne.
(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing
by Biju Dwarakanath and David Goodman)