(Corrects first paragraph to remove reference to soy prices.)
By Michael Hirtzer
CHICAGO, March 24 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat and corn prices were little changed on Thursday as investors squared positions in relatively light dealings ahead of the Good Friday holiday, when markets will be closed.
Soybeans <0#S:> were higher at the Chicago Board of Trade, 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.
Corn futures <0#C:> also gained slightly, despite lower-than-expected weekly exports, while wheat prices <0#W:> eased, on pace for a flat weekly close.
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 sharply and the Thomson Reuters CoreCommodity CRB Index eased to about a one-week low.
CBOT May soybeans were up 3-1/2 cents to $9.08-3/4 per bushel as of 11:01 a.m. CDT (1601 GMT), near their five-month peak of $9.14 set on Tuesday. Soybeans were on pace to rise 1 percent for the week and a fourth consecutive week of higher prices.
“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 $275.60 per ton after USDA data showed old-crop weekly export sales last week of 468,710 tonnes, biggest since October 2003.
Corn export sales 803,200 tonnes fell below analyst estimates while soybean and wheat exports were about in line with expectations.
CBOT May corn climbed 1 cent to $3.69-1/2 per bushel and CBOT May wheat fell 1-1/2 cents to $4.61-1/2. Corn was headed for a narrow weekly gain, wheat a small weekly loss.
Cold temperatures 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.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture 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 Elaine Hardcastle and G Crosse)