1/24/97 -- 11:32 AM

Board of Trade, Open,0247

CHICAGO (AP) - Grain and soybean futures prices advanced early today on the Chicago Board of Trade after the government reported unexpectedly strong export sales for last week.

The Agriculture Department, in a report delayed one day because of the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday, said 342,300 tons of wheat for export were shipped last week, up from 339,900 tons the previous week.

Corn shipments surged to 1.34 million tons, up 55 percent from 863,500 tons the previous week, with the primary destinations in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Chile and Venezuela.

The USDA also reported this morning that 234,736 tons of corn was sold to Taiwan and an unknown destination.

Soybean futures rose amid strong export numbers, reinforced ideas stocks will remain tight until a new crop arrives on the market.

Wheat for March delivery rose 1 1/4 cent to $3.77 a bushel; March corn rose 1 cent to $2.71 1/4 a bushel; March oats rose 1/2 cent to $1.56 1/4 a bushel, and March soybeans rose 4 cents to $7.45 1/4 a bushel.

Beef and live hog futures were mixed on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, while frozen pork bellies were mostly higher.

February live cattle rose .02 cent to 64.92 cents a pound; January feeder cattle rose .22 cent to 69.95 cents a pound; February live hogs fell .07 cent to 76.35 cents a pound; February frozen pork bellies rose .28 cent to 78.80 cents a pound.

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