GRAINS-Wheat slide continues in volatile week; soy and corn edge up
* Wheat lower on fears of Omicron impact
* Market affected by importer demand, slower U.S. job growth
* Soybeans rise, corn up on support from crude oil prices (Adds closing prices)
By P.J. Huffstutter
CHICAGO, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat futures slid once again on Friday, after a volatile week in which prices plunged on investor fears about the economic impact of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, traders said.
Wheat prices had steadied early in the day's session but then started falling again on news that U.S. employment growth slowed considerably in November.
Soybeans moved higher, drawing support from signs of renewed Chinese demand and questions about weather conditions in South America. Corn ticked up, with strength in crude oil underpinning the crop widely used in ethanol.
"This is the time of year where the market really begins to take a closer look at South America, and the weather talk there is hotter and drier," said Daniel Smith, senior risk manager at Top Third Ag Marketing in Chicago.
Private exporters sold 122,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to unknown destinations for the 2021-2022 marketing year, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday.
Still, the window for such purchases is closing. China's soybean imports from the United States in 2021/2022 are expected to fall sharply from last season after loading delays following Hurricane Ida.
The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade (CBOT) settled the day down 11-1/4 cents at $8.03-3/4 a bushel. The contract posted a weekly loss of 6.27%.
CBOT soybeans settled up 23 cents at $12.67-1/4 a bushel. The contract posted a weekly gain of 1.2%. And CBOT corn ended the day closed up 7-1/4 cents at $5.84 a bushel - but the contract posted a 0.47% weekly loss.
Concerns about the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant, which sparked liquidation in wheat early this week, also prompted some of the wheat futures selling on Friday, traders said.
But that sell-off was offset somewhat by the potential bullish news of Russia considering setting its grain export quota at 14 million tonnes - including 9 million tonnes of wheat - for Feb. 15 through June 30 of 2022, traders said.
Wheat prices soared last month, with Chicago reaching a nine-year high and Euronext futures at an all-time peak, as the possibility of more Russian export restrictions and the risk of rain damage to Australia's crop fanned fears of tight milling wheat supplies. (Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Rashmi Aich, Kirsten Donovan, Paul Simao and Sonya Hepinstall)
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