GRAINS-U.S. soy rises to 7-week high amid Argentina dryness
* Soybeans up 1 pct on unfavorable South American weather
* U.S. confirms sales of soybeans to China
* Corn and wheat shed earlier gains
(Rewrites throughout, updates prices; changes byline and dateline, pvs PARIS/SINGAPORE) CHICAGO, Feb 4 (Reuters) - U.S. soybeans climbed more than 1 percent on Monday to a seven-week high on steady export demand and unfavorable weather in South America slowed the harvest in northern Brazil and threatened crops in Argentina. Corn and wheat shed earlier gains and traded near steady as pressure from sinking crude oil, lower equities markets and a firmer U.S. dollar offset spillover support from the higher soybean market. Mike Zuzolo, president of Global Commodity Analytics, said that for soybeans, "The fear has been resurrected this morning that not only do we have weather issues in South America, but we're not slowing the demand down here in the United States like we need to. "That was exacerbated today by another new sale to China, half of which was old-crop." The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday confirmed private sales of 116,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China, with 58,000 tonnes of it for shipment in the current marketing year, which ends August 31. The weather in Brazil was mostly favorable for crops, but relentless rain in northern areas of the country has stalled the early harvest. Meanwhile, dry conditions remain an issue in Argentina's crop growing areas. "There will be some rains but it's still drier than average in Argentina. It continues to draw down soil moisture reserves headed into the critical reproductive stage of development, so that's not good," said Global Weather Monitoring meteorologist John Dee. Argentina is the world's No. 3 soybean and corn exporter after the United States and Brazil. Consumer nations are hoping it can provide ample supplies of both crops to bolster world food stocks. Chicago Board of Trade March soybeans rose 16-3/4 cents, or 1.1 percent, to $14.91 per bushel by 10:50 a.m. CST (1650 GMT), climbing for the sixth time in seven sessions. CBOT March corn was flat at $7.36 a bushel and March wheat was 1/2 cent higher at $7.65-1/2 a bushel. The wheat market, which slid for the last two weeks, was underpinned by Egypt's purchase of U.S.-origin soft red winter wheat in a snap tender over the weekend, but that support was tempered by forecasts for rain in the drought-stricken U.S. Plains wheat belt.
Prices at 10:56 a.m. CST (1656 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG CBOT corn 736.00 0.00 0.0% 5.4% CBOT soy 1490.00 15.75 1.1% 5.0% CBOT meal 435.10 6.90 1.6% 3.4% CBOT soyoil 53.13 0.14 0.3% 8.1% CBOT wheat 765.50 0.50 0.1% -1.6% CBOT rice 1567.50 11.50 0.7% 5.5% EU wheat 247.75 -0.75 -0.3% -1.0%US crude 96.59 -1.18 -1.2% 5.2% Dow Jones 13,889 -121 -0.9% 6.0% Gold 1674.65 8.11 0.5% 0.0% Euro/dollar 1.3526 -0.0114 -0.8% 2.5% Dollar Index 79.5470 0.4220 0.5% -0.3% Baltic Freight 745 -5 -0.7% 6.6%
(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore, Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris and Sam Nelson in Chicago; Editing by Grant McCool)