SINGAPORE: Chicago soybean futures fell on Friday, pausing after a rally fuelled by signs of progress towards the resolution of a US-China trade dispute that has disrupted soybean flows.
Corn eased after rising this week on concern about weather delays to US planting, while wheat was also lower, pressured by a slide in spring wheat prices.
Attention in grain markets was also turning towards next Tuesday's monthly supply and demand outlook from the US Department of Agriculture.
The most active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade was down 0.6 percent at $9.01 a bushel by 1210 GMT.
Over the week it was showing a 1.9 percent gain, the biggest weekly rise in three months.
US President Donald Trump said on Thursday that the United States and China were getting very close to a trade deal that could be announced within four weeks, but also warned that without an agreement it would be difficult to allow trade to continue.
“The US-China trade talks have reached a critical stage," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
“Some have even speculated that a ‘deal' might even be imminent. And that might yet prove to be the case."
US officials have cited progress in the talks on tricky aspects, including reforming practices such as intellectual property theft and forced transfer of technology from US companies doing business in China.
The US Department of Agriculture on Thursday said weekly soybean export sales totalled 1.992 million tonnes, topping a range of trade forecasts.
The report showed soybean export sales to China in the week were 1.7 million tonnes, up from zero the previous week, reflecting the latest in a series of Chinese purchases made during the negotiating truce with Washington.
Improving harvest prospects in South America were acting as a curb on US soybean and corn prices.
Argentina's soybean harvest has progressed at a brisk pace over recent days, showing “excellent" yields that could push the crop higher than the currently forecast 53 million tonnes, the Buenos Aires Grains exchange said in a report on Thursday.