GRAINS-Profit-taking pressures new-crop corn, soybeans
* Markets pull back after gains this week
* Traders eye weather next week amid dryness concerns
* Exporters sell U.S. corn to China
* Volatility roils nearby July contracts before expiration
(Updates with U.S. trading, new dateline pvs LONDON) CHICAGO, July 12 (Reuters) - New-crop U.S. soybean and corn futures sank on Friday as traders took profits following recent gains, while nearby contracts gyrated in extremely volatile conditions ahead of their expiration. Traders kept an eye on weather forecasts amid concerns that dryness could hurt crop production, but said they were taking money off the table ahead of the weekend. They planned to reassess weather outlooks at midday and on Sunday night. November soybeans, which represent the crop that will be harvested in the autumn, dropped 1.4 percent to $12.72-3/4 a bushel by 10:25 a.m. CDT (1525 GMT) at the Chicago Board of Trade, after hitting a three-week top of $12.97. The contract remained on track for a weekly gain of about 3.6 percent. "I think you're just seeing people get out of here prior to the weekend," said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading, referring to the profit-taking. Prices may recover before the end of the session, traders said, depending on projections for hot, dry weather. The markets jumped earlier in the week as some forecasters began warning about the risk rising temperatures. Increased stress on crops is expected into late July in portions of the western U.S. Midwest due to a lack of rainfall, said Andy Karst, meteorologist for World Weather Inc. However, a lack of extreme heat will cushion the blow on crops, he said.
December corn lost 1.7 percent at $5.18 a bushel but remained on course for a weekly gain of about 5.4 percent. The absence of a threat from high temperatures is "making it difficult for the market to continue with its apparent weather scare rally," said Anne Frick, senior oilseeds analyst for Jefferies Bache. Trading was volatile in nearby contracts ahead of the expiration of the front-month July futures. July soybeans were up 0.6 percent at $16.10 a bushel after falling more than 3.5 percent to a two-week low earlier in the session. July corn was up 1.1 percent at $7.24-1/4.
MASSIVE CORN SALE Traders shrugged off the announcement of the eighth largest sale of U.S. corn on USDA records. Private exporters reported the sale of 960,000 tonnes of U.S. corn to China for delivery during the new marketing year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Rumors of the sales helped boost prices earlier in the week, and some traders sold on confirmation of the business from the USDA, according to analysts. Reuters reported on Thursday that China's Sinograin bought more than 1 million tonnes of U.S. new-crop corn for shipment in the 2013/14 year. The purchase follows huge wheat imports earlier this month when Sinograin bought more than 1.3 million tonnes of U.S. wheat after the domestic wheat harvest had been damaged by bad weather. The USDA, in a monthly supply/demand report on Thursday, forecast China's wheat imports at 8.5 million tonnes in 2013/14, up 5 million tonnes on the month and up from 3.2 million in 2012/13. The department lowered its forecast for 2013/14 U.S. wheat ending stocks to 576 million bushels from its June projection of 659 million and below the average analyst estimate of 632 million. July wheat rose 0.2 percent to $6.80-1/2 a bushel, while December wheat gained 0.5 percent to $6.99-3/4. "Wheat's kind of having it's day in the sun, and it may continue that way for awhile," Gerlach said.
Prices at 10:29 a.m. CDT (1529 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG CBOT corn 724.25 7.50 1.1% 3.7% CBOT soy 1610.00 8.75 0.6% 13.5% CBOT meal 540.40 14.70 2.8% 28.5% CBOT soyoil .00 0.00 0.0% -100.0% CBOT wheat 679.25 0.00 0.0% -12.7% CBOT rice 1529.00 -9.00 -0.6% 2.9% EU wheat 197.50 -1.75 -0.9% -21.1% US crude 105.42 0.51 0.5% 14.8% Dow Jones 15,468 7 0.1% 18.0% Gold 1280.26 -4.43 -0.3% -23.5% Euro/dollar 1.3052 -0.0042 -0.3% -1.1% Dollar Index 83.0080 0.2620 0.3% 4.1% Baltic Freight 1149 10 0.9% 64.4%
(Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago, Nigel Hunt in London, Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Michael Hogan in Hamburg; Editing by Marguerita Choy)