* U.S. weekly sales bigger than expected
* Corn gains limited after China rejects U.S. DDGS -Xinhua
* Wheat gains on short covering, bargain buying
(Adds closing prices, soybean comment, weekly milestones) WINNIPEG, Manitoba, Dec 27 (Reuters) - U.S. grains and soybeans rose on Friday, clawing back some of their earlier losses during the holiday-shortened week. Soybeans gained the most, climbing 1 percent on technical buying ahead of the expiry of options and bargain buying, traders said. The oilseed also got a boost from the U.S. Department of Agriculture reporting better-than-expected weekly export sales of U.S. soybeans and corn. Net sales for the 2013/14 marketing year of nearly 1.5 million tonnes of corn far exceeded trade estimates, while soybean exports of more than 720,000 tonnes also topped expectations. Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) January soybeans added 1 percent, or 12-3/4 cents, to $13.31-1/2 a bushel, finishing with a weekly loss of 0.6 percent. Hot, dry weather until early next week in Argentina, the No. 3 global soybean and corn exporter, was likely to keep a lid on soy and corn yields, local experts said. Still, the prospect of abundant South American soybean supplies to compete for exports with U.S. soy early in 2014 weighed on the price outlook. "I still think we're top-heavy in beans," said J. Mark Kinoff, president of Ceres Hedge. "I just don't think we're going to get enough good news to keep it up in this area." CBOT March corn rose 0.3 percent, or 1-1/4 cents, to $4.27-1/2 a bushel and registered a weekly loss of 1.3 percent. "Exports are providing a bit of support," said Terry Linn, broker at the Linn Group in Chicago. "The big number in the corn exports is giving you a bit of a pop here." Corn's gains were limited as China's quality watchdog confirmed it has rejected two cargoes of dried distillers grains (DDGs) from the United States after detecting the presence of a genetically modified (GMO) strain not yet approved by Beijing, Xinhua News Agency reported on Friday.
Chicago March wheat gained 0.5 percent, or 3 cents, to $6.09 a bushel on support from bargain-buying and short-covering, finishing with a weekly loss of 0.7 percent. The contract slumped to a low of $6.00-3/4 on Thursday, the weakest level for the front month since mid-May 2012. USDA reported wheat sales of nearly 597,000 tonnes for the current 2013/14 marketing year, higher than expected, but down from the prior week's 656,100 tonnes.
Temperatures are expected to plunge early next week in the U.S. Midwest, but the coldest areas will be outside of the core winter wheat belt, agricultural meteorologist Andy Karst of World Weather Inc said on Friday.
Prices at 1:38 p.m. CST (1938 GMT)
LAST NET PCT YTD CHG CHG CHG CBOT corn 427.50 1.25 0.3% -38.8% CBOT soy 1331.50 12.75 1.0% -6.1% CBOT meal 445.70 4.70 1.1% 6.0% CBOT soyoil 39.02 0.15 0.4% -20.6% CBOT wheat 609.00 3.00 0.5% -21.7% CBOT rice 1545.00 1.00 0.1% 4.0% EU wheat 208.75 -2.25 -1.1% -16.6% US crude 100.29 0.74 0.7% 9.2% Dow Jones 16,482 2 0.0% 25.8% Gold 1214.00 3.70 0.3% -27.5% Euro/dollar 1.3738 0.0047 0.3% 4.1% Dollar Index 80.3640 -0.1200 -0.2% 0.7% Baltic Freight 2277 30 1.3% 225.8%
(Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen in Chicago, Nigel Hunt in London and Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by Anthony Barker, Meredith Mazzilli and Marguerita Choy)