Corn and soybean futures inched higher in a quiet session ahead of the holiday break, while wheat futures slid.
Traders were mostly positioning ahead of the break, analysts said, with some traders pulling out of their bets altogether.
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But lingering concerns about corn-and-soybean growing conditions in Argentina, a major crop producer, continued to spark some buying interest. Though recent rain has helped reduce the share of stressed cropland to 10%, the Commodity Weather Group said, current weather trends were slightly drier.
That left some traders eager to factor the risk of crop damage into prices, but good growing conditions in neighboring Brazil limited buying interest.
"The market has taken a cautious approach," said Brian Hoops, president of brokerage Midwest Market Solutions, "as rains have benefited the crop and they want to see some damage before putting much premium into the marketplace."
Corn futures for March rose 0.2% to $3.52 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. January soybean futures rose 0.1% to $9.49 1/2 a bushel.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday morning that private exporters sold 252,000 metric tons of soybeans to China for 2017-18. Export demand for U.S. soybeans has been disappointing this season.
Wheat futures rose before turning lower. A cold snap next week is due to threaten some of the winter wheat crop in the Great Plains, and the Commodity Weather Group placed higher risks of winterkill in northern Kansas on New Year's Eve.
But analysts emphasized that the potential for damage is limited. CBOT March wheat futures fell 0.5% to $4.24 3/4 a bushel.
Write to Benjamin Parkin at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
December 22, 2017 15:12 ET (20:12 GMT)