U.S. soybean futures are poised for a higher start to Thursday's day session, buoyed by outside markets, with weakness in the U.S. dollar, and historic highs in gold futures attracting broader based buying.

CBOT soybeans are seen opening 4 cents to 6 cents higher.

In overnight trading, Chicago Board of Trade May soybean futures were up 5 1/4 cents at $13.63 a bushel, the most active July contract was up 5 cents at $13.74 1/4, and new crop November future was up 6 3/4 cents at $13.72 3/4.

The strength in outside markets will lend support to prices, with buyers emerging as many investors trade grain and oilseed futures in a basket of commodities.

Higher-than expected soybean and soymeal sales will provide some fundamental support, but overall, analysts say the sales were not surprising enough to affect market direction.

Despite a firmer tone, futures are not expected to escape the market's recent trading range, as even the higher export sales still show export demand slowing down, said Don Roose, president of Iowa based brokerage U.S. Commodities.

U.S. Department of Agriculture's weekly export sales report released Thursday said total soybean export sales were a net 555,300 metric tons for the week ended April 14, with 349,000 tons for delivery in the 2010-11 marketing year that ends Aug. 31. Sales for delivery in the 2011-12 marketing year resulted in net sales of 206,300 tons. Analysts had forecast 2010-11 marketing year sales between 50,000 and 200,000 tons, and 2011-12 sales between 180,000 and 300,000 tons.

China, the leading importer of U.S. and global soybeans, has slowed its purchasing, and there remains concern that China may cancel some U.S. sales as poor processing margins have resulted in China pushing out delivery of South American soy purchases while switching some U.S. soybean purchases to cheaper priced Brazil soybeans, Roose said.

China's soybean imports in March were down 12% from a year earlier at 3.51 million metric tons, the General Administration of Customs said Thursday. Confirming data released earlier this month, customs said total imports in the first three months of the year fell 0.7% to 10.96 million tons.

China's soybean demand is reportedly sluggish with port inventories high and inventories at crushing plants at comfortable levels.

The trade is also focused on planting weather, as cool, wet Midwest conditions pose a threat to early corn seedings, which could possibly shift some corn acreage to soybeans, Roose said. An aggressive harvest of a projected record Brazilian soybean crop continues to limit upside potential, as fresh South American supplies take away the urgency to curb U.S. usage.

The market is seemingly comfortable that South American supplies will relieve the strain on tight U.S. stocks signaled by slowing export demand.