By Jesse Newman

CHICAGO--Grain and soybean futures fell Friday, weighed down by weaker-than-expected export demand and an ascendant U.S. dollar.

Soybean prices declined to a fresh seven-week low on signs of deteriorating demand for U.S. supplies of the oilseeds. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said net soybean sales for the week ended Dec. 29 totaled 87,700 metric tons, which was sharply below analyst expectations for 500,000 to 1.5 million metric tons, and a low for the crop year. Analysts said the disappointing sales figures indicate foreign buyers are shifting their attention to South America, where freshly-harvested crops will soon become available to the market.

Soybean futures for January dropped back below the $10 a bushel mark, dropping by 17 1/2 cents, or 1.7%, to $9.86 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. That is the lowest settlement price for soybeans since Nov. 16.

"This was a brutally bearish close for the beans on the charts, with plenty of room still on the downside," said Charlie Sernatinger, head of grain trading at ED&F Man Capital Markets in Chicago.

He said soybean prices could sink to new lows if growing conditions don't worsen in Argentina, where both dryness and flooding have prompted some concerns over crop output.

A stronger dollar also weighed on soybean prices, as well as prices for corn and wheat. A firmer greenback is unfriendly for crop prices because it makes U.S. farm goods less attractive for foreign buyers.

Corn prices lowered, sapping a five-day run-up in the market as slowing export demand, a firmer greenback and farmer selling pressured prices for the crop. The USDA said net corn sales last week also were a low for the crop year, totaling 429,200 tons. Analysts had expected 550,000 to 1.05 million tons.

CBOT March corn slid 3 1/4 cents, or 0.9%, to $3.58 a bushel. Prices for the grain had notched a more-than-five-month high in the previous session.

Wheat futures declined from a more-than-four-month high, buffeted in part by signs of weak demand. According to the USDA, net wheat sales last week totaled 183,700 tons, which missed analyst expectations for 250,000 to 525,000 tons.

Losses in the market were capped, however, by worries that cold temperatures in the U.S. Plains could harm wheat crops which are lying dormant for the winter.

CBOT March wheat futures slid fell 3 cents, or 0.7%, to $4.23 1/4 a bushel.

Write to Jesse Newman at jesse.newman@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 06, 2017 16:22 ET (21:22 GMT)

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