LONDON - Chicago wheat futures edged higher on Friday and was on track for a weekly gain, boosted by crop concerns and a pick-up in demand by major importers.
The Chicago Board of Trade most-active wheat contract was up 0.5% at $4.90-1/2 a bushel at 1016 GMT and was on track for a weekly gain of 1.4%.
Dealers said Algeria and Egypt had both made purchases this week, increasing coverage after a drop in prices to a 3-1/2 month low earlier this month.
"The weather is also providing market support. Rains continue to slow the U.S. spring wheat harvest, now seen at 76% complete, and quality issues are starting to surface due to the wet conditions," Jonathan Lane, ADM Agriculture's head of grain trading, said in a market note.
Lane said rains were also slowing the harvest in the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Manitoba while "weather concerns are still apparent in the southern hemisphere."
December milling wheat on Paris-based Euronext
The most active CBOT corn contract was up a marginal 0.1% at $3.73 a bushel and was on track for a weekly gain of 1.2% as higher-than-expected U.S. weekly exports underpinned sentiment.
"U.S. exports of corn as well as soybeans were pretty good," said one Singapore-based trader. "Further gains will be limited unless there are issues with the U.S. crop."
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) in a weekly export sales report said net 1.728 million tonnes of U.S. soybeans were sold last week, along with 1.467 million tonnes of corn, both above trade expectations.
Mild weather is forecast to continue in the U.S. Midwest over at least the next 15 days. Above-normal rain over that term could help crops that have lacked moisture this month but may also delay some early harvesting.
The most active CBOT soybean contract was down 0.2% at $8.91 a bushel and was on track for a weekly loss of 0.9%.
Dealers continued to keep a close watch on the trade dispute between the U.S. and top soybean buyer China.
U.S. and Chinese deputy trade negotiators resumed face-to-face talks for the first time in nearly two months on Thursday, as the world's two largest economies try to bridge deep policy differences and end the trade row.
A Chinese delegation will visit American farm regions with U.S. officials next week in an effort to build goodwill amid ongoing trade negotiations, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told reporters on Thursday.
(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore, Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Edmund Blair) ((firstname.lastname@example.org; +44 20 7542 8421; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com))