Soybeans proved Chicago's best-behaved crop on Thursday, supported by upbeat data as well as the prospect of the Argentine farmers' strike, while a forecast of rising inventories depressed the big grains.
Argentine farmers, angry at the government on issues ranging from export levies to a veto of tax concessions for drought-hit growers, will on Friday begin a one-week strike, putting crop and cattle sales on ice.
So much was known. What was unknown was the US Census Bureau data on soybean use by American crushing plants last month. At 129.4m bushels, this came in ahead of investors' forecasts.
Weekly export sales data was viewed as helpful too, at 88,000 tonnes for old crop soybeans and 1.97m tonnes for the new crop.
However, headway was slowed by the apparently limitless benign weather the US crop is enjoying, meaning a strong harvest and weaker market dynamics.
Corn and wheat did little to help, heading lower after the International Grains Council said that global grain stocks would rise in 2009-10 to an eight-year high. It had been forecasting a decline in inventories.
External markets were weaker too, amid some renewed jitters over economic recovery, notably in China, where shares closed lower again, albeit by a relatively modest 0.7%. US stocks fell too.
Against that background, and with profits to be taken from a recent strong run, headway for soybeans might have been more difficult than on more upbeat days.
September soybeans were 14.75 cents higher at $11.05 ¾ a bushel at 18:00 GMT, while the better-traded November contract dipped 2.5 cents to $9.95 a bushel.