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GRAINS-CBOT soybeans, wheat firm after tighter stocks

(Updates with closing prices, weekly trends)

By Christopher Walljasper

CHICAGO, April 8 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat, corn and soybean futures firmed on Friday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) assessed global supply and demand, reflecting the impact that Russia's invasion of Ukraine has had on Black Sea exports.

Grain prices remained underpinned by Russia's six-week-old invasion, which has stalled large amounts of Ukrainian exports of wheat, corn and sunflower oil. Russia calls its actions in Ukraine a "special operation."

Soybean and corn futures remain elevated, supported by reduced production in South America and questions of U.S. acreage decisions as planting nears.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) gained 33 cents to $10.58-1/4 per bushel, adding 7.49% for the week, its biggest weekly gain since March 4.

CBOT soybeans added 43-1/2 cents to end at $16.89 per bushel, firming 6.7%, its biggest weekly addition since July 2, 2021.

CBOT corn firmed 10-1/2 cents to $7.60-3/4 a bushel, ending the week up 4.49%, its biggest weekly increase since the week ended March 4.

Soybean futures climbed as the USDA pegged U.S. ending stocks down 25 million bushels to 260 million bushels as South American exports lag, with Brazil's exports falling 2.75 million tonnes to 82.75 million tonnes.

The report does not reflect the increased soybean plantings the agency showed in last week's planting intentions report, the USDA said.

"We're that strong in the beans because they haven't put in the bigger acres. We're that strong in the corn because people believe those acres are coming down," said Mark Gold, managing partner at Top Third Ag Marketing.

Corn ending stocks remained unchanged from March at 1.440 billion bushels.

"The USDA probably surprised the trade when they left U.S. corn exports unchanged despite the Ukraine situation," said Don Roose, president of U.S. Commodities.

Ukraine is expected to export 19 million tonnes of wheat this production year, down 1 million from the USDA's last assessment, while Russia is expected to increase wheat shipments by 1 million, to 33 million tonnes.

U.S. wheat ending stocks are set to increase by 25 million bushels to 678 million bushels as high CBOT futures price U.S. wheat out of the world market. (Reporting by Christopher Walljasper; Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Will Dunham)

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