By Julie Ingwersen
CHICAGO, Feb 3 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures declined on Friday on spillover weakness from crude oil prices and expectations of a massive Brazilian soy harvest, but most-active soymeal futures SMv1 set an 8-1/2-year high on tight supplies of the feed ingredient, analysts said.
Wheat futures fell on profit-taking after rising to a one-month top while corn inched higher.
Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) March soybeans SH3 settled down 2-1/4 cents at $15.32 per bushel while March soymeal SMH3 ended up $4.70 at $496.50 per short ton after reaching $500.40, the highest on a continuous chart of the most-active soymeal contract SMv1 since June 2014.
Soymeal futures surged as worries about tightening supplies in Argentina, the world's top exporter, and firm U.S. cash markets attracted speculative buying.
"The funds have been piling into soybean meal for some time now. Meal is tight in this country; our crush rates are not what you think they would be," said Tom Fritz, a partner with EFG Group in Chicago.
Meanwhile, soybean futures SH3 sagged as traders anticipated a record-large soy harvest in Brazil, and as a drop in crude oil futures CLc1 weighed on soyoil, used in biodiesel fuel. O/R
Some analysts also noted rising U.S. tensions with China, the biggest global importer of the oilseed, as a potential bearish factor for soybean futures after a Chinese spy balloon was tracked flying across the United States.
CBOT March wheat WH3 settled down 4-1/4 cents at $7.56-3/4 per bushel, turning lower after rising to $7.76-1/2, its highest level in a month. March corn CH3 finished up 2-1/4 cents at $6.77-1/2 a bushel.
A firmer dollar hung over the markets, making U.S. grains less competitive globally. The dollar .DXYrose after strong U.S. jobs data raised concerns about higher interest rates.
However, Fritz noted, wheat and corn had underlying support from uncertainty about grain supplies from the Black Sea region as the first anniversary of Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of its neighbour Ukraine approaches, potentially fueling hostilities there.
Commodity funds were net sellers of CBOT soyoil, soybean and wheat futures contracts on Friday and net buyers of soymeal and corn, traders estimated.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission said Thursday that as a result of a ransomware attack on ION Trading UK, the CFTC's weekly Commitments of Traders report will be delayed until all trades can be reported. The report provides a snapshot of investor positioning on various assets.
(Reporting by Julie Ingwersen; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Matthew Chye in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy)
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