U.S. wheat firms ahead of USDA conditions report; pulls corn higher

By Mark Weinraub

CHICAGO, May 23 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures rose on Monday, snapping a three-session losing streak on a round of bargain buying as traders waited for the latest assessment about crop health.

"It is just a bounce back from the bashing it took last week," said Tom Fritz, commodity broker at EFG Group. "We still have production concerns, planting concerns up North. Wheat is tight. That is not going to go away anytime soon."

The gains in wheat pulled corn higher, which also were boosted by signs of strong export demand.

But soybean futures fell on a technical setback after hitting their highest in more than a month during the overnight trading session.

Declines in soymeal added pressure to soybeans, traders said.

Chicago Board of Trade soft red winter wheat for July delivery WN2 settled up 21-1/4 cents at $11.90 a bushel.

After surging a week ago following India's announcement of an export ban, wheat prices fell back from mid-week as India appeared to loosen its embargo, while weather forecasts showed rain for drought-affected U.S. and French growing belts.

"Traders will be watching the (USDA's) crop rating to be published this evening," consultancy Agritel said of wheat. "In France, the current storms are welcome, but do not prevent the risk of a drop in production," the Agritel note said.

Analysts were expecting the USDA report to show that 28% of the U.S. wheat crop was rated good to excellent, up 1 percentage point from a week earlier but still among the lowest on record.

CBOT July corn CN2 gained 7-1/2 cents to $7.86-1/4 a bushel.

A USDA report showed that export inspections of corn totalled a bigger-than-expected 1.699 million tonnes in the week ended May 19, up 60% from a week earlier.

CBOT July soybeans SN2 were 18-1/4 cents lower at $16.87 a bushel. Prices peaked at $17.20, their highest since April 22, overnight.
Reporting by Mark Weinraub in Chicago; Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Rajendra Jadhav in Mumbai Editing by Subhranshu Sahu, Mark Potter, Grant McCool and Richard Chang

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