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GRAINS-Corn prices edge higher on cool weather; soybeans retreat

Julie Ingwersen

(Recasts, updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline, changes dateline, previous LONDON) CHICAGO, Aug 22 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures inched higher on Thursday, stabilizing from three-month lows set a day earlier, supported by worries that cool weather could slow the maturity of the delayed U.S. crop, analysts said. Wheat rose on technical buying and better-than-expected weekly U.S. export sales. But soybean futures declined, retreating from early strength on what appeared to be technical selling, analysts said. At 12:30 p.m. CDT (1730 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade December corn was up 3/4 cent at $3.71 per bushel. December wheat was up 5-1/4 cents at $4.73-1/4 a bushel while November soybeans were down 5 cents at $8.68 a bushel. Corn futures had bullish technical momentum after the December contract rallied from a three-month low to settle higher on Wednesday. Also, temperatures in the Midwest are forecast as cooler than normal into September, a potential drag on production at a time when late-planted corn and soybean crops need warmth and sunshine. "We need every GDD (growing degree day) we can get to bring these crops home, yet it's supposed to be kind of cool for the next week or two," said Jack Scoville, an analyst with the Price Futures Group in Chicago. CBOT corn drew support from news that President Donald Trump planned to meet with Cabinet members on Thursday to discuss ways to boost demand for biofuels including corn-based ethanol. . Trump's move was seen as "initiating damage control by looking into ways to soothe irate producers over his recent decision to grant unnecessary small refinery exemptions for the second year in a row, which has negatively impacted ethanol producers and all U.S. corn and soybean producers," Dan Cekander, president of DC Analysis, wrote in a client note. CBOT corn and soybeans firmed in early moves after the Pro Farmer Midwest Crop tour late Wednesday projected below-average crop prospects in Illinois, the top U.S. soybean state and the No. 2 corn producer. The crop tour wraps up in Minnesota on Thursday and editors of the Pro Farmer newsletter are expected to release U.S. soybean and corn production estimates on Friday. CBOT wheat futures climbed after the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported wheat export sales in the week ended Aug. 15 at nearly 600,000 tonnes, topping trade expectations.

"The export sales are starting to pick up, so maybe we are finding some value here," Scoville said. The USDA's report also showed that China bought a small volume of U.S. soybeans last week, despite pledging to halt purchases of American farm products due to the escalating trade war between Washington and Beijing.

CBOT prices as of 12:29 p.m. CDT (1729 GMT):

Net Pct Volume

Last change change

CBOT wheat WZ9 473.50 5.50 1.2 35452CBOT corn CZ9 371.00 0.75 0.2 141216CBOT soybeans SX9 867.75 -5.25 -0.6 78538CBOT soymeal SMZ9 298.80 -1.50 -0.5 35955CBOT soyoil BOZ9 28.96 -0.16 -0.6 44559

NOTE: CBOT December wheat and corn and November soybeans shown in cents per bushel, December soymeal in dollars per short ton and December soyoil in cents per lb.

(Additional reporting by Nigel Hunt in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; editing by Richard Pullin, Kirsten Donovan and Jonathan Oatis)