December 21, 2017 / 2:10 AM / a month ago

GRAINS-Wheat at two-week high as U.S. winter crop at risk

MANILA, Dec 21 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures edged higher to their strongest level in two weeks on Thursday on concerns freezing weather across the Wheat Belt could hurt crops over the winter season.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Chicago Board of Trade wheat for March delivery was up 0.4 percent at $4.25 a bushel by 0147 GMT, its highest level since Dec. 7.

* Temperatures in hard wheat growing areas in the United States are expected to be below normal next week, forecasters said. Sub-zero lows measured in Fahrenheit are not forecast to be as widespread as thought earlier this week, but temperatures in some areas may still be frigid enough to damage crops, they said.

* Corn and soybeans were steady at $3.49-1/2 and $9.54-3/4 per bushel, respectively.

* But soybeans were not far above Wednesday’s 2-1/2-month trough of $9.52-3/4 as rains in Brazil and Argentina were expected to improve harvest there.

* Brazil and Argentina are on track for another year of bumper soybean production as rains ease concerns over dry weather brought by the La Niña weather phenomenon.

* Rains that fell on Argentina’s main farm belt over the weekend brought relief to parched soy and corn-growing land, meteorologists said on Monday, allowing the planting of crops to resume in most of the affected areas.

* China, the world’s top soybean buyer, will reduce the amount of foreign material allowed in shipments of U.S. soybeans as of Jan. 1, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said, a move that may curb imports.

MARKET NEWS

* Asian equities were subdued following the passage of U.S. tax cuts as benefits to company bottomlines were already baked into stock prices, while bonds were spooked by the blowout in government debt needed to fund the giveaways.

* The dollar held near a one-week high against the yen, supported by a rise in U.S. bond yields, with moves limited ahead of a Bank of Japan policy decision and a news conference by the BOJ governor.

DATA AHEAD (GMT)

0745 France Business climate Dec

1330 U.S. GDP Final Q3

1330 U.S. Weekly jobless claims

1330 U.S. National activity index Nov

1330 U.S. Philly Fed business index Dec

1400 U.S. Monthly home price index Oct

1500 U.S. Leading index Nov

1500 U.S. Consumer confidence flash Dec (Reporting by Manolo Serapio Jr.; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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