Adds analyst quote, updates prices
CANBERRA/PARIS, Jan 12 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures climbed on Friday ahead of U.S. government crop data that could shift the market, but prices were still set for a fourth straight weekly loss owing to weak demand for U.S. exports and an improved supply outlook.
Corn was flat while wheat futures were firm, with both on track for weekly declines.
The most active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) Sv1 was up 0.5% at $12.42-3/4 a bushel by 1220 GMT, after slipping to $12.34 earlier in the week for its lowest since December 2021.
The contract was down 1.1% this week.
Low U.S. shipments and ample supply are pressuring prices, said Andrew Whitelaw at consultants Episode 3.
But traders remain alert to the possibility that U.S. and British attacks on targets in Yemen could expand conflict in the Middle East and push up oil prices, lifting soybeans and corn, which are used for ethanol and biofuels.
U.S. soybean exports this season are behind last year's level, with top producer Brazil dominating the market after a record 2022/23 harvest.
Dry conditions have hit Brazil's current soybean crop, but recent rains stabilised yields. Forecaster Patria Agronegocios on Thursday predicted a 2023/24 harvest of 143.18 million metric tons but the government prediction is around 155 million tons, similar to last season.
Favourable weather is also improving prospects for Argentina's soybean farmers.
Traders were awaiting release of quarterly USDA grain stocks data and a monthly agricultural supply/demand report on Friday, which could set the tone for prices for the coming weeks.
Analysts expect the USDA to report a jump in U.S. corn and wheat stockpiles from a year ago but lower soybean stocks.
CBOT corn Cv1 was virtually unchanged at $4.58 a bushel after hitting $4.52 on Monday and Tuesday, its weakest since December 2020, amid plentiful supply.
It was down 0.1% from last Friday's close and on track for a fifth consecutive weekly fall.
The International Grains Council (IGC) raised its forecast for 2023/24 global corn production by 7 million metric tons to 1.230 billion tons, with higher Chinese production offseting lower expected yields in Brazil.
For wheat, the IGC increased its 2023/24 world production outlook by 1 million tons to 788 million tons.
"The assessment essentially confirms our view of a more subdued wheat price in the longer term due to better crop prospects," Commerzbank said in a note.
CBOT wheat Wv1 was up 0.8% at $6.08-1/2 a bushel and 1.2% down for the week, its second consecutive weekly fall. Prices remain near September's three-year low of $5.40 thanks to strong supply from Russia.
Prices at 1220 GMT
CBOT wheat Wv1
CBOT corn Cv1
CBOT soy Sv1
Paris wheat BL2c1
Paris maize EMAc1
Paris rapeseed COMc1
WTI crude oil CLc1
Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel, Paris futures in euros per metric ton
(Reporting by Peter Hobson in Canberra and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Mrigank Dhaniwala and David Goodman)
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