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GRAINS-U.S. corn, wheat fall but close above session lows; soy firms

(Updates with closing prices)

By Mark Weinraub

CHICAGO, April 21 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures fell on
Friday, with key contracts hitting all-time lows as the outlook
for Canadian plantings topped expectations and threatened to add
to the already abundant global stockpile, traders said.

Corn futures also eased, dipping to their lowest since late
December, on expectations of improving weather for planting in
the U.S. Midwest in the coming weeks. Both corn and wheat closed
above session lows as investors stepped in to cover short
positions ahead of the weekend.

Soybean futures edged higher on bargain buying although the
weather outlook limited the gains.

"Long-term forecasts out Thursday show generally good
conditions for planting in May, with above-normal temperatures
over most of the growing region this summer outside the
northwest Corn Belt," Farm Futures senior analyst Bryce Knorr
said in a note to clients.

Chicago Board of Trade July corn futures ended down
1/2 cent at $3.63-3/4 a bushel. They bottomed out at $3.60-3/4,
their lowest since Dec. 30.

CBOT July soft red winter wheat was off 3/4 cent at
$4.21 a bushel after touching a contract low of $4.16-1/4.
Several other CBOT wheat contracts and K.C. hard red winter
wheat contracts also hit new lows.

Statistics Canada pegged the country's all-wheat area at
23.2 million acres, down 0.1 percent from last year. The
estimate was bigger than traders and analysts expected. Canola
seedings were forecast at a record 22.4 million acres.

Rain forecasts for key U.S. wheat-growing areas, which will
shepherd the crop through its final stages of development, added
pressure to prices.

"Weather concerns had been overplayed earlier," said
National Australia Bank agribusiness economist Phin Ziebell. "We
are looking at another great year for wheat supplies even though
U.S. acreage is down. Yields are looking really good."

Improving prospects for the upcoming U.S. harvest have kept
the focus on ample global supplies and offset concerns about
dryness in France and other parts of Western Europe.

Farming agency FranceAgriMer said on Friday that 85 percent
of the French soft wheat crop was good to excellent in the week
to April 17, down from 89 percent a week earlier in the second
successive weekly decline.

CBOT July soybean futures rose 4 cents to $9.60-3/4 a
bushel.

A fresh export deal helped soybeans recover from early
weakness.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said private exporters
reported the sale of 146,000 tonnes of soybeans for delivery to
unknown destinations during the 2016-17 marketing year.
(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus
Trompiz in Paris; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Chizu Nomiyama)

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