* USDA keeps U.S. soy export estimate unchanged in report
* Traders expect USDA will later raise export forecast
* U.S. yield estimates may decline more -analysts (New throughout, adds latest prices, USDA crop data, changes byline/dateline, pvs PARIS/SINGAPORE)
CHICAGO, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures on Friday reached their highest prices since June 2018 as traders projected the U.S. Department of Agriculture will increase its forecast for exports, following recent sales to China.
Corn futures were near unchanged, and wheat futures declined.
The USDA, in a monthly report, said U.S. corn and soybean production will be smaller than previously expected because of dry weather and a severe windstorm that damaged crops across the key production state of Iowa.
Traders expect inventory estimates will tighten if the USDA further trims harvest estimates and increases its export forecasts.
The USDA left its estimate for soybean exports unchanged from last month, despite a string of U.S. sales to China, the world’s top buyer of the oilseed. The agency also kept its estimate for China’s corn imports unchanged following a surge in purchases of U.S. cargoes.
“The trade believes that the yields are going to continue to fall,” said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based broker U.S. Commodities. “And you still have a buyer underneath the market: China.”
The most-active CBOT soybean contract was up 13-1/2 cents at $9.91 a bushel by 12:50 p.m. CDT (1750 GMT), after earlier rising to $9.98, the latest in a series of highs since June 2018.
CBOT corn was up 1 cent at $3.66 a bushel after earlier reaching its highest since March 13 at $3.69-1/4. CBOT wheat bucked the trend and traded 7-1/2 cents lower at $5.40-3/4.
The USDA lowered its estimate of 2020/21 U.S. ending stocks by 150 million bushels to 460 million bushels for soybeans and by 253 million bushels to 2.503 billion bushels for corn.
“There’s a lot of people looking at that 460 carryout, thinking, ‘It’s not 460. It’s 400 or less, because the export number has to come up,’” said Joe Vaclavik, president of Standard Grain brokerage. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago; Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris, Naveen Thukral in Singapore, and Karl Plume and Christopher Walljasper in Chicago; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips/Mark Potter and Grant McCool)
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