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Chicago grains ease as China worries, firm dollar weigh

By Gus Trompiz and Naveen Thukral

PARIS/SINGAPORE, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean, corn and wheat futures eased on Monday, curbed by worries that rising COVID-19 cases in China could dent commodity demand in the country.

A jump in the dollar, as uncertainty over Chinese activity pushed investors towards perceived safe-haven assets, also weighed on U.S. grain futures by making them more expensive overseas. Beijing's most populous district urged residents to stay at home on Monday, as the city's COVID case numbers rose, while at least one district in Guangzhou was locked down for five days.

"The increase is COVID-19 cases in China is seen as a bearish demand factor for food and energy consumption," market research firm Hightower said in a report.

Crude oil and share prices also fell. The soybean market is particularly sensitive to Chinese news as the country dominates global imports of the oilseed.

The risk of further local lockdowns in China offset signs of brisk recent demand for U.S. beans, including just above 3 million tonnes of sales shown in last Thursday's weekly export sales report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The stronger dollar underscored a lack of competitiveness for U.S. wheat as Russian exports pick up and a 120-day extension to a grain shipping corridor from Ukraine is set to maintain flows from the war-torn country.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was down 0.3% at $14.24-1/2 a bushel by 1221 GMT.

CBOT wheat was down 1.4% at $8.23-3/4 a bushel while corn fell 0.6% to $6.63-1/2 a bushel.

Grain investors were also monitoring weather in Argentina. A drier week was forecast after widespread showers last week in the drought-hit exporting country.

Large speculators cut their net long position in CBOT corn futures in the week to Nov. 15, regulatory data released on Friday showed.

Prices at 1221 GMT Last Change Pct End Ytd Pct Move 2021 Move CBOT wheat 810.75 -11.25 -1.37 770.75 5.19 CBOT corn 663.50 -4.25 -0.64 593.25 11.84 CBOT soy 1424.50 -3.75 -0.26 1339.25 6.37 Paris wheat 325.75 0.00 0.00 276.75 17.71 Paris maize 306.75 0.00 0.00 226.00 35.73 Paris rape 601.75 -8.50 -1.39 754.00 -20.19 WTI crude oil 79.86 -0.22 -0.27 75.21 6.18 Euro/dlr 1.02 -0.01 -0.88 1.1368 -9.98 Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel, Paris futures in euros per tonne (Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Chizu Nomiyama)

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