CHICAGO (Dow Jones)--Corn futures inched down Wednesday, succumbing to pressure from favorable weather for developing crops.

Nearby Chicago Board of Trade July corn settled at $3.59 1/4 down 1/2 cent or 0.14%, and December corn ended 1/2 cent or 0.13% lower at $3.78.

The combination of beneficial weather for newly planted corn crops and pressure from an early slide in crude oil futures attracted sellers to the market.

Bullish traders were disappointed with the market's inability to attract buyers after an announced sale of U.S. corn to unknown destinations and lingering talk of China buying additional supplies from the U.S.

Some price pressure was offset by declines in the U.S. dollar.

Despite the setback, "it will be difficult for prices to experience a sharp price break as long as China continues to buy U.S. corn," said Chad Henderson, analyst with Prime Ag Consulting in Brookfield WI.

The market is stuck in a range, with not enough fresh bearish news to push prices below strong underlying support.

Futures are searching for fair price value for world corn, with the uncertainties of a long growing season making it a little early to price in a record crop, Henderson said.

The DTN Meteorlogix weather forecast calls for a period of drier and much warmer to hotter weather to form beginning this weekend and continuing for much of next week. This should favor spring planting and early development of corn and soybeans.

Speculative funds were estimated sellers of 3,000 lots in corn. Fund activity is a measure of investment money flow in the market.

On tap for Thursday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly export sales report will be released at 8:30 a.m. EDT. Analysts surveyed by Dow Jones Newswires estimate corn sales for the week ended May 13 to be in the range of 750,000 to 1,300,000 metric tons.

CBOT oats ended higher, continuing its consolidation from recent losses. July oats settled up 2 1/4 cents or 1.17% to $1.95 1/4.

Ethanol futures were lower. June ethanol closed $0.001 or 0.06% lower at $1.605 and July ethanol settled down $0.010 or 0.62% to $1.609.

-By Andrew Johnson Jr., Dow Jones Newswires, (312) 347-4604