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Soybeans end strong Friday

Updated: 12/27/2013 @ 4:15pm

U.S. soybean futures rose Friday, buoyed by strong export sales and concerns about dryness in Argentina, the world's third-largest producer of the oilseeds.

Corn and wheat also rose.

Net export sales of U.S. soybeans for delivery in the 2013-14 crop year totaled 720,200 metric tons in the week ended Dec. 19, up 74% from the previous week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said Friday. The China-led export commitments were near the high end of analyst forecasts that ranged from 400,000 to 800,000 tons.

Soybean prices also gained as some traders placed bets that much-needed rain forecast for Argentina over the next week may fail to meet expectations. Soybean futures had fallen about 1% on Thursday after new weather outlooks showed the added precipitation, which could benefit crops that have been afflicted by heat and dryness.

Traders are being cautious "ahead of the big weather weekend," said Dan Cekander, director of grain market analysis at brokerage Newedge USA. "Those rains need to perform early next week in Argentina since they have been dry in December."

Soybeans for January delivery at the Chicago Board of Trade climbed 12 3/4 cents, or 1%, to $13.31 1/2 a bushel. March soybeans, the most-actively traded contract, gained 8 1/2 cents, or 0.7%, to $13.13 3/4 a bushel.

Corn futures settled higher after the USDA reported weekly export sales that sharply exceeded analyst forecasts. Sales of the grain for delivery in 2013-14 totaled 1.48 million metric tons. Analysts had projected sales from 200,000 to 650,000 tons.

Corn for March delivery at CBOT rose 1 1/4 cents, or 0.3%, to $4.27 1/2 a bushel. Corn futures have tumbled about 39% this year as a big U.S. crop has expanded supplies of the grain.

CBOT wheat snapped a three-session losing streak amid sentiment that the market may be oversold. CBOT March wheat added 3 cents, or 0.5%, to $6.09 a bushel. Earlier this week, the grain reached a 19-month low, pressured by rising global production and favorable weather for U.S. winter-wheat crops.

Write to David Kesmodel at david.kesmodel@wsj.com

Subscribe to WSJ: http://online.wsj.com?mod=djnwires

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

December 27, 2013 15:20 ET (20:20 GMT)

DJ US Soybean Futures Rise on Strong Exports; Corn, Wheat Gain -- Update->copyright

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