(Recasts with U.S. trading, new analyst quote, changes byline, dateline; pvs SINGAPORE/PARIS)
CHICAGO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures rose for the fifth straight day on Friday, hitting their highest in 5-1/2 weeks as concerns about parched soil in Argentina underpinned prices, traders said.
"Dryness in Argentina has provided enough fuel for soybean prices to find footing with multiday gains this week," Ben Potter of Farm Futures said in a note to clients.
Signs of strong export demand also lent support to soybeans which were on track for their biggest weekly gain in three months. Corn futures also rose on the back of better-than-expected data from the U.S. government.
Wheat was trading in negative territory, weighed down by profit taking and technical sales following two straight days of gains.
At 11:21 a.m. CST (1710 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade March soybean futures were up 6 cents at $9.79 a bushel. Soybean futures have risen 2.0 percent this week, which would be their biggest weekly rally since a 2.9 percent gain in mid-October.
The U.S. Agriculture Department on Friday morning said weekly export sales of soybeans totalled 1.528 million tonnes, topping market forecasts that ranged from 800,000 to 1.4 million tonnes.
CBOT March corn futures were 1/2 cent higher at $3.52 while CBOT March soft red winter wheat was down 2-1/2 cents at $4.22-3/4 a bushel.
Weekly corn export sales of 1.891 million tonnes were well above analysts' estimates that ranged from 500,000 tonnes to 800,000 tonnes. Export sales of wheat were 190,500 tonnes. Forecasts for wheat export sales ranged from 200,000 to 500,000 tonnes.
For the week, CBOT corn has risen 1.7 percent while CBOT soft red winter wheat was up 0.5 percent.
Persistent dryness in Argentina has raised concern about harvest prospects in the world's third-largest soybean producer. "It's certainly a concern, given that Argentina is the biggest soymeal exporter and we see soymeal prices leading the soy complex," said Graydon Chong, senior commodity analyst at Rabobank.
CBOT soymeal hit its highest since Dec. 11 on Friday and also was up for a fifth day running.
The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange could reduce its 2017/18 soybean planting area estimate further after sowing delays caused by dry weather in the northwestern part of Argentina, it said on Thursday.
Dry conditions have also raised concern about Argentina's corn crop and analysts said this week that drought could cut up to 3.7 million tonnes from the projected 2017/18 harvest. (Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris; Editing by David Goodman and Tom Brown)