By Jesse Newman

CHICAGO--Grain and soybean futures notched fresh highs on Friday, bolstered by demand for U.S. crop supplies.

Prices for corn and wheat rose to more than seven-month highs as government expectations for expanding grain demand spurred fresh buying and short-covering by investors. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Thursday trimmed its outlook for domestic corn and wheat stockpiles due to greater-than-expected demand for the crops. The government said a brisk export-sales pace for wheat would eat into U.S. supplies, while ethanol makers also are grinding more corn into the biofuel than anticipated.

Reduced projections for U.S. grain stockpiles spurred a round of short-covering in the wheat market, as large investors bailed out of bearish bets on wheat in case prices continue to rally. Wheat also drew strength from the USDA's outlook for smaller-than-expected supplies of the grain globally.

Wheat prices for March delivery gained 5 1/2 cents, or 1.2%, to $4.49 a bushel, the highest settlement price since Jun. 24.

Corn prices shot higher as the market absorbed federal forecasts for smaller-than-expected U.S. and world supplies this season. The USDA on Thursday said domestic corn inventories in August would total 2.32 billion bushels, down from last month's forecast of 2.36 billion. Globally, corn reserves will likely total 217.6 million tons, down from 221 projected in January, the USDA said.

CBOT March corn advanced 5 cents, or 1.4%, to $3.74 1/2 a bushel, the highest closing price since Jun. 28.

Soybean prices climbed to a 3-week high, buoyed by strength in the grain markets as well as fresh signs of export demand. The USDA on Friday said private exporters had booked sales of 140,000 metric tons of soybeans for delivery to unknown destinations during the 2016-17 season, fueling optimism over U.S. exports.

CBOT March soybean added 8 1/2 cents, or 0.8%, to $10.59 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade, the highest settlement price since Jan. 20.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

February 10, 2017 16:40 ET (21:40 GMT)

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