GRAINS-Soybeans drop for fourth straight day on weak demand
* Soybeans drop on lower-than-expected NOPA crush
* End-of-week consolidation weighs on corn, wheat
* Uncertainty ahead of March 28 USDA reports limits buying
(Recasts with soybeans turning lower, adds NOPA data and quote, updates prices) CHICAGO, March 15 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures fell for a fourth consecutive session on Friday and were poised for their steepest weekly drop in two months as processors crushed fewer beans last month than expected and as South American supplies continued to flood the global market. U.S. corn futures eased on Friday from an earlier five-week high while wheat declined for the first time in seven sessions on profit-taking before the weekend. Soybeans turned lower at midmorning after the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) said the U.S. soybean crush in February fell to 136.322 million bushels, below trade forecasts for 141.6 million. "The beans had been on a demand-led rally and domestic demand was supposed to be super strong. But processors are probably having a tough time getting beans to crush because our supplies are low," said Jack Scoville, vice president of The Price Futures Group. "With the lack of export news this week and now with this crush number coming in below expectations, it's a disappointment so it's taking prices down," he said. Chicago Board of Trade May soybeans fell 11-1/4 cents, or 0.8 percent, to $14.24-1/4 per bushel by 12:17 p.m. CDT (1717 GMT), on pace for a 3 percent weekly decline, its largest in 10 weeks. The contract breached its 50-, 100- and 200-day moving averages on the break and hit a more-than-two-week low. The lower-than-expected domestic use added to earlier-week pressure from an accelerating South American harvest, which dampened global demand for near term shipments of U.S. soy.
CORN, WHEAT SLIP Corn and wheat drifted lower in a profit-taking setback after recent gains. Buyers were cautious ahead of the U.S. Agriculture Department's end-of-month reports on quarterly grain stocks and prospective plantings. The market was "particularly looking at corn with some pretty high acreage numbers creeping out," said Brian Basting, commodity research analyst at Advance Trading. "We have a long way to go to planting, but it's just enough to keep some buyers off balance," Basting said. He said the Brazilian corn crop continues to have potential, with acreage up this year after last year's record crop. Illinois-based Allendale Inc said Friday that U.S. farmers were preparing to sow 96.956 million acres of corn this spring, the second largest area since 1937 and slightly less than the 97.255 million acres planted last year. Chicago Board of Trade May corn eased by 3/4 cent to $7.15-3/4 per bushel after earlier touching a high of $7.19-3/4, the highest since Feb. 8. The contract was poised for a weekly gain of more than 1.5 percent. CBOT May wheat fell 5 cents, or 0.7 percent, to $7.19-3/4 per bushel but remained on track for its largest weekly gain in eight weeks. Wheat had been supported by robust export demand as well as struggling with high corn prices. U.S. supplies of the yellow grain were forecast to shrink to the lowest in 17 years by the end of the summer.
Prices at 12:20 p.m. CDT (1720 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG CBOT corn 716.00 -0.50 -0.1% 10.8% CBOT soy 1424.25 -11.25 -0.8% 18.8% CBOT meal 418.10 -6.90 -1.6% 35.1% CBOT soyoil 49.83 0.49 1.0% -4.3% CBOT wheat 720.00 -4.75 -0.7% 10.3% CBOT rice 1463.00 9.00 0.6% 0.2% EU wheat 234.75 0.25 0.1% 15.9%US crude 93.44 0.41 0.4% -5.5% Dow Jones 14,500 -39 -0.3% 18.7% Gold 1593.46 3.66 0.2% 1.9% Euro/dollar 1.3056 0.0052 0.4% 0.9% Dollar Index 82.2300 -0.3760 -0.5% 2.6% Baltic Freight 892 12 1.4% -48.7%
(Editing by Grant McCool and Bob Burgdorfer)