(Updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline; changes dateline, previous HAMBURG) CHICAGO, Oct 7 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures inched higher on Monday on position-squaring ahead of a key monthly U.S. government crop report later this week and worries about forecasts for a freeze looming for the northwestern Corn Belt, traders said. Soybeans and wheat were narrowly mixed in choppy trade. As of 12:54 p.m. CDT (1754 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade December corn was up 2-1/4 cents at $3.87 per bushel. November soybeans were up 1/4 cent at $9.16-1/2 a bushel and December wheat was up 3/4 cent at $4.91-1/4 a bushel. Commodity funds hold net short positions in CBOT corn, soybean and wheat futures, leaving the markets vulnerable to bouts of short-covering, especially in advance of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Oct. 10 supply/demand report.
Analysts surveyed by Reuters on average expect the government to lower its forecasts of U.S. yield, production and 2019/20 ending stocks for both corn and soybeans.
"All eyes are on the crop report on Thursday, what the yield is, and the demand. It's just balancing positions ahead of the report," said Don Roose, president of Iowa-based U.S. Commodities. Additional support in corn stemmed from forecasts for late-week snowstorms across the Dakotas and western Minnesota followed by a cold spell. Lows in northwest Iowa next weekend could dip to 28 degrees Fahrenheit (minus 2 Celsius). "Temperatures will ... be turning much colder later this week, with a significant freeze event expected across the western Corn Belt, ending the growing season in many areas," space technology company Maxar said in a daily weather note. In Iowa, the top U.S. corn state, just 36% of the corn was mature by Sept. 29, compared with the state's five-year average of 74%. The USDA was scheduled to release updated figures in its weekly crop progress report later on Monday. "It's a foot-race for crops in those areas" to reach maturity ahead of the freeze, Roose said. Analysts on average expected the USDA's weekly report to show the U.S. corn harvest as 19% complete and the soybean harvest as 15% complete. On the global trade front, U.S. and Chinese officials meet in Washington on Thursday and Friday in a fresh effort to solve the trade war that has slashed U.S. exports of soybeans and other farm products to China. "The U.S./China trade talks are in focus this week. But markets now want concrete indications of progress in the trade war before reacting," said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager with INTL FCStone.
CBOT prices as of 12:58 p.m. CDT (1758 GMT):
Net Pct Volume
Last change change
CBOT wheat WZ9 491.00 0.50 0.1 23364CBOT corn CZ9 387.00 2.25 0.6 76950CBOT soybeans SX9 916.50 0.25 0.0 97441CBOT soymeal SMZ9 302.40 -1.30 -0.4 37674CBOT soyoil BOZ9 30.16 0.30 1.0 41902
NOTE: CBOT December wheat and corn and November soybeans shown in cents per bushel, December soymeal in dollars per short ton and soyoil in cents per pound.
(Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Jan Harvey and Tom Brown)