PARIS/SINGAPORE- Chicago corn and wheat edged higher on Thursday while soybeans eased as the market assessed mixed U.S. crop conditions, a lull in Chinese imports and the risk a fast-spreading coronavirus variant will dampen demand.
"We have a bit of support for corn today but overall there is demand destruction due to the coronavirus," said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at brokerage IKON Commodities in Sydney.
"For the U.S. corn crop, there is still a wide range of opinions on yields."
Some U.S. corn is expected to have suffered from a dry start to the growing season, although rain forecast in the coming two weeks could bring relief.
The upcoming rain is expected to benefit soybeans more as the oilseed comes into key growth stages during August.
The market is waiting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture monthly supply and demand report on Aug. 12 for an update on U.S. harvest prospects.
Commodity brokerage StoneX Monday afternoon pegged U.S. corn and soybean yields below the USDA's most recent estimates.
The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was up 0.3% at $5.48-1/2 a bushel by 1125 GMT, steading after a two-day decline.
CBOT soybeans were down 0.5% at $13.19 a bushel, also curbed by a fall for Malaysian palm oil futures.
The demand outlook was being clouded by the spread of the Delta coronavirus variant, as well as a lack of large recent purchases of U.S. corn and soybeans.
Upcoming U.S. supplies are still expected to be sought after due to tight global availability, exacerbated by a poor second corn crop in Brazil.
The market will get a fresh indication on overseas demand from weekly U.S. export sales data later on Thursday.
CBOT wheat was up 0.6% at $7.21-1/4 a bushel, after easing back on Wednesday following a near three-month high.
The wheat market remained underpinned by drought in North American spring wheat zones, along with rain disruption to Europe's harvest and falling estimates of Russia's crop, traders said.
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Amy Caren Daniel, Kirsten Donovan) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +33 1 49 49 52 18; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))