(Updates U.S. market activity to close)
By Michael Hirtzer
CHICAGO, March 24 (Reuters) - U.S. soybeans were higher on Thursday, reversing from earlier losses as soymeal <0#SM:> rallied on U.S. Department of Agriculture data showing the largest weekly soymeal sales in about 13 years.
Wheat and corn prices were little changed as investors squared positions in relatively light dealings ahead of the Good Friday holiday, when markets will be closed.
The dollar was headed for its fifth trading day of gains against a basket of currencies, making U.S. goods more expensive in some global markets, while crude oil <0#CL:> fell and the Thomson Reuters CoreCommodity CRB Index eased to about a one-week low.
CBOT May soybeans finished 5-1/4 cents higher at $9.10-1/2 per bushel, rallying from their session low of $9.02 and nearing their five-month peak of $9.14 set on Tuesday. Soybeans on a continuous chart rose 1.4 percent for the week, their fourth consecutive week of higher prices.
CBOT May corn settled up 1-1/2 cents at $3.70 per bushel and CBOT May wheat was flat at $4.63. Corn notched a narrow weekly gain, wheat a small weekly loss.
“Generally, it’s a risk-off day across the spectrum,” said Dale Durchholz, grains analyst at Agrivisor.
“The rally we have going in beans you can tie right back to the soymeal exports,” he added. “We’ve had a subtle shift in sentiment (in soybeans) when we got over $9 ... (traders) are less pessimistic.”
CBOT May soymeal jumped more than 1 percent to $276.60 per ton after USDA data showed old-crop weekly export sales last week of 468,710 tonnes, the biggest since October 2003.
Corn export sales at 803,200 tonnes fell below analyst estimates while soybean and wheat exports were about in line with expectations.
Cold weather likely damaged some developing wheat plants in dry portions of the southwestern Great Plains, potentially reducing yields at the summer harvest.
“We had some concerns about the weather, people were talking about damage from freezing weather in U.S. Plains,” said Phin Ziebell, an agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank. “When you look at the global picture, there is plenty of wheat.”
USDA is due to issue its prospective planting report on March 31, based on conditions as of March 1. (Additional reporting by Nigel Hunt in London and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by G Crosse and James Dalgleish)