By Tom Polansek
CHICAGO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures lost ground for the sixth consecutive week and soybean futures declined the fifth week in a row after expectations for plentiful supplies pushed the markets to multi-year lows on Thursday.
Soybeans have dropped 6.5% so far this month, while corn and wheat have each fallen about 5.5% as rainfall in top soy producer Brazil and higher-than-expected U.S. inventories improved supply outlooks.
Short-covering, positioning and U.S. export demand helped corn and wheat advance on Friday, traders said, while soybeans ended slightly lower after rising earlier in the session.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced the first U.S. soybean export sale under its daily reporting rules in a month. A weekly USDA report showed U.S. corn and wheat export sales for 2023-24 exceeded analysts' estimates in the week ended Jan. 11.
"USDA export sales were good for the grains and soybean meal," said Terry Reilly, senior agricultural strategist for Marex.
The most-active soybean Sv1 contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) ended down 1/4 cent at $12.13-1/4 on Friday and lost about 0.9% for the week. The market on Thursday fell to $12.01, its lowest level since November 2021.
CBOT wheat Wv1 settled up 7-3/4 cents at $5.93-1/4 per bushel, a day after slipping to a seven-week low of $5.73-1/4. The market declined 0.5% for the week, its third consecutive weekly loss.
Corn Cv1 ended up 1-1/2 cents at $4.45-1/2 per bushel on Friday and eased 0.3% for the week. On Thursday, the market fell to 4.36-3/4, its lowest price since December 2020.
Traders continue to monitor crop conditions in South America after analysts slashed estimates for Brazil's soybean crop due to earlier hot, dry weather. Drought fears have eased due to recent rains, though, and bumper harvests are expected elsewhere in South America such as Argentina.
"There are concerns over a large harvest coming from South America in the coming months," Commonwealth Bank analyst Dennis Voznesenski said.
(Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago. Additional reporting by Peter Hobson in Canberra and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Will Dunham, Subhranshu Sahu, Susan Fenton and Jonathan Oatis)
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