GRAINS-Wheat hits 3-month high on signs of tightening global supplies

Julie Ingwersen

(Updates prices, adds quotes; changes byline and dateline, previous PARIS/SINGAPORE) CHICAGO, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat futures touched a three-month high on Friday, buoyed by rising cash prices and signs of tightening global supplies, analysts said. Soybean futures rose on worries about the size of the U.S. harvest while corn fell on disappointing weekly U.S. export sales. At the Chicago Board of Trade, December soft red winter wheat futures ended up 6-3/4 cents at $5.32-1/4 per bushel after reaching $5.32-3/4, its highest since July 15. For the week, the contract rose 24-1/4 cents a bushel or 4.8%, its seventh straight weekly advance. Wheat futures have drawn support as worsening crop prospects in southern hemisphere exporters Argentina and Australia, as well as weather-hampered spring wheat harvests in North America, have shifted attention away from large global stocks. Australia's wheat production this year is expected to drop to 15.5 million tonnes, National Australia Bank said as it cut its forecast to well below recent market estimates of around 19 million tonnes. In Argentina, recent rains have not been strong enough to help wheat fields after weeks of dryness, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said on Thursday. At the same time, Saudi Arabia tendered to buy wheat this week, and Egypt bought 405,000 tonnes of Russian, French and Ukrainian wheat at an international tender at prices that were higher than what it paid a week earlier. "The Egyptian tender this week was nearly $9 to $10 (per tonne) above the previous week. Russian (cash wheat) values are up; they keep talking a big crop, but it seems like their internal prices are going up," said Matt Connelly, analyst with the Hightower Report in Chicago. CBOT November soybeans ended up 2-1/2 cents at $9.34 a bushel while December corn settled down 3-3/4 cents at $3.91 a bushel. Soybeans drew support from strong weekly export sales data along with worries about U.S. yields, particularly in light of recent snowfall in Minnesota and North Dakota. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is scheduled to release updated crop monthly crop estimates on Nov. 8. In its weekly export sales report, the USDA put export sales of U.S. soybeans in the week to Oct. 10 at just over 1.6 million tonnes, at the top end of trade expectations.

For corn, the USDA's export sales tally was 368,500 tonnes, below the lowest in a range of trade expectations. "We keep falling further behind our sales pace in corn," Connelly said.

CBOT settlement prices:

Net Pct VolumeLast change changeCBOT wheat WZ9 532.25 6.75 1.3 52046CBOT corn CZ9 391.00 -3.75 -0.9 110414CBOT soybeans SX9 934.00 2.50 0.3 109778CBOT soymeal SMZ9 308.50 1.70 0.6 33054CBOT soyoil BOZ9 30.36 -0.03 -0.1 42717

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 Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, David Evans and Tom Brown)