Wheat futures in Chicago rise on fears of a conflict between Russia and Ukraine

Por Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, USA, Jan 24 (Reuters) – U.S. wheat futures rose on Monday on fears that Russia would invade Ukraine and disrupt grain shipments from the region, according to traders.

* Soybean futures weakened on the Chicago Stock Exchange, while corn was little changed after hitting a seven-month high.

* Wheat traders kept their eyes on Russia because it is the world’s top exporter, while Ukraine is expected to be fourth.

* A disruption to the flow of grain out of the Black Sea region could add fuel to food inflation and slow shipments to places like the Middle East, analysts said.

* “Traders are adding a risk premium to the threat of conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” brokerage CHS Hedging said.

* The most active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade was up 13 cents at $7.93 a bushel by 1635 GMT. Last week the price had risen to a high of $8.0275, the highest level since the end of December.

* CBOT soybeans fell 16 cents to $19.9825 a bushel. Corn fell 0.25 cent to $6.16 a bushel, after earlier trading at $6.1950, its highest price since June.

* Expectations of export demand in the United States and concerns about hot, dry weather affecting production in South America have recently supported corn and soybean futures.

* However, improving weather for crops in Argentina and Brazil weighed on prices on Monday, traders said.

* “Brazil and Argentina received much-needed rain over the weekend,” CHS Hedging said.

* On the demand side, exporters, in separate deals, sold 150,000 tonnes of US corn to unknown buyers and 132,000 tonnes of US soybeans to China, the US Department of Agriculture said. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago and Nigel Hunt in London. Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore Edited in Spanish by Javier López de Lérida)