October 23, 2018 / 3:48 AM / 4 months ago

GRAINS-Soybean prices near 2-wk low as US harvest gathers pace, wheat firms

* Soybeans set to fall for 3 of 4 sessions on US harvest pressure

* Wheat gains ground after Monday’s drop, at lowest since Oct. 12 (Adds comment, detail)

By Naveen Thukral

Oct 23 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures looked set to fall for a third session out of four on Tuesday, trading close to their lowest in nearly two weeks after a U.S. government report pegged the harvest there above market expectations.

Wheat prices inched up after their biggest one-day decline in two weeks on Monday, remaining under pressure from weak demand for U.S. supplies.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade was down 0.4 percent at $8.54-3/4 a bushel by 0320 GMT, after dropping to its lowest since Oct. 11 at $8.54-1/4 a bushel.

Wheat rose 0.1 percent to $5.08-1/2 a bushel, having closed down 1.3 percent on Monday, the biggest one-day slide since Oct. 8. Corn was unmoved at $3.69-1/2 a bushel, having closed up 0.7 percent in the previous session.

After the market closed on Monday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said 53 percent of the soybean crop had been harvested, slightly ahead of market forecasts.

The agency said 49 percent of the corn crop had been harvested, behind market expectations, but higher than the average pace of 47 percent.

“It was a busy week for producers across the U.S. Corn Belt as favourable weather conditions finally allowed harvest progress to pick up speed after being delayed by frequent, soaking rains,” Karen Braun, a market analyst for Reuters, wrote in a column.

However, forecasts for showers in the Midwest crop belt next week stoked fears of harvest delays for both the crops.

Heavy rains in recent weeks have threatened grain yields and quality in some areas, and traders are trying to gauge the extent of the damage.

“Harvest pace has picked up after flooding delayed field work, but we have to see the weather in the coming weeks for price direction,” said an India-based agricultural commodities analyst at an international bank.

Persistent dry weather is threatening to curb next year’s rapeseed harvest in the European Union, after farmers were unable to sow some crops while many plants are struggling to develop before winter, the EU’s crop monitoring service said.

Low rainfall and warm temperatures in September and early October exacerbated a summer drought in parts of Europe during the sowing period for rapeseed, the MARS service said.

Commodity funds were net buyers of CBOT corn, soybean and soyoil futures contracts on Monday and net sellers of wheat and soymeal, traders said. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Joseph Radford)

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