By Benjamin Parkin

CHICAGO--Grain and soybean futures were mixed Friday as traders tested appetite for buying in a quiet session.

Corn and wheat futures both locked in small gains while soybeans slid. Analysts said prices are at bargain levels after all contracts shed significant value in a sell-off last week, though pessimistic indicators continue to weigh on the market.

But trading volume fell notably from Thursday, as "market participants focus on NCAA brackets and green beer," said Doug Bergman, director of the agricultural trading desk at RCM Alternatives.

Corn prices have gained this week on the back of strong demand, though global stockpiles remain high. U.S. exports came in above expectations while China, which already has large supplies of the grain, was rumored to shopping for American corn. May corn futures rose 0.4% to $3.67 1/2 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade.

Wheat futures ended Friday's session up 0.1% at $4.36 1/4 a bushel, with weather concerns about the U.S. crop encouraging traders to buy the grain in case of disruption to the harvest.

A weaker dollar and rising crude oil prices also helped support higher grain prices.

Soybean prices, however, resumed a decline started last week after a small bump yesterday. Soybean farmers are facing what is expected to be a challenging year as large Brazilian and Argentine harvests challenge the U.S.'s competitiveness. CBOT May soybean futures fell 0.2% to $10.00 a bushel.

Write to Benjamin Parkin at

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 17, 2017 16:17 ET (20:17 GMT)

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