GRAINS-Wheat firm as slow harvest pace draws bargain buyers
* Slow winter wheat harvest, spring wheat sowing help prices
* Crop delays encourage buying after 2-month low last week
* Soybeans firm as USDA confirms continued planting delays
* Tensions in old-crop market continue to support corn
(Updates with European trading) PARIS/SYDNEY, June 18 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat futures rose on Tuesday as rain, which hampered harvesting and sowing in the United States, encouraged buyers to return after a two-month low at the end of last week. Corn and soybean prices were also higher as they drew some support from lower-than-expected crop progress figures, while corn remained supported by a tight old-crop market. Chicago Board of Trade July wheat rose 0.9 percent to $6.86-3/4 a bushel by 1126 GMT. It closed little changed in the previous session as it hovered near a two-month low struck at Friday's close. Wheat markets have been under pressure from an outlook for ample supply from upcoming northern hemisphere harvests, with U.S. prices also hit by fears that the discovery of a rogue strain of genetically modified wheat will curb export demand. But a weekly crop report issued by the U.S. Department of Agriculture after the market close in Chicago on Monday showed that both harvesting of winter wheat and sowing of spring wheat were lagging the average pace of recent years due to rain. "The market has realised that there is a lack of progress in wheat harvesting and development," said Joyce Liu, investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore. "Winter wheat harvesting severely lagged last year's pace and the average of the last five-years' pace." The U.S. winter wheat harvest was 11 percent complete by Sunday, up from 5 percent a week earlier but behind the five-year average of 25 percent, the USDA said. The USDA said spring wheat planting has advanced from 71 to 84 percent, yet is still behind the five-year average.
EARLY RUSSIAN HARVEST However, rain that has slowed field work has boosted crop conditions and a return to drier conditions could see harvest pressure on prices resume. "Rains hindering the hard red winter harvest are to die out this week, opening the way for more favourable cutting conditions," Jaime Nolan-Miralles, commodity risk manager at INTL FC Stone Europe, said. European wheat futures tracked Chicago prices higher to recover from a latest one-year low set on Monday, shaking off a four-month high for the euro against the dollar. Benchmark November milling wheat in Paris was up 1.0 percent at 197.75 euros a tonne. Operators were monitoring risks to crops from very hot conditions in Europe this week, although an early start to what is expected to be a large wheat harvest in Russia could keep a lid on prices. New-crop December corn edged up 0.1 percent to $5.38-3/4 a bushel, while November soy added 0.4 percent to $12.91. Corn drew some support from wheat but was also underpinned by the USDA crop condition report. The USDA said 64 percent of the corn crop in the world's biggest producer was rated in good or excellent condition, up from 63 percent a week earlier but slightly below market expectations. Spot corn also stayed firm as tight old-crop supply pushed up cash markets in the United States. The wet weather across much of the Midwest continued to delay soybean planting. Soybean planting progress reached 85 percent by Sunday, the USDA said, up from 71 percent a week earlier but behind the five-year average of 91 percent.
* Prices as of 1126 GMT
Product Last Change Pct Move End 2012 Ytd Pct CBOT wheat 686.75 6.25 +0.92 778.00 -11.73 CBOT corn 670.75 2.25 +0.34 698.25 -3.94 CBOT soy 1517.75 5.25 +0.35 1418.75 6.98 Paris wheat 197.75 2.00 +1.02 250.25 -20.98 Paris maize 217.75 1.25 +0.58 237.75 -8.41 Paris rape 417.75 1.00 +0.24 456.25 -8.44 WTI crude oil 97.66 -0.11 -0.11 91.82 6.36 Euro/dlr 1.34 +0.03
* CBOT futures prices are in cents per bushel, Paris futures in euros per tonne, WTI crude oil in dollars per barrel.
(Editing by Richard Pullin and Anthony Barker)