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GRAINS-Corn at 7-month high after USDA shows smaller stockpiles

(New throughout, adds USDA crop report data, comments; changes
byline, dateline, previously LONDON)

By Michael Hirtzer

CHICAGO, March 8 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures jumped about
1 percent to a seven-month high on Thursday after the Department
of Agriculture showed smaller-than-expected stockpiles in the
wake of increased exports and demand for ethanol, traders said.

Chicago Board of Trade wheat and soybean futures were mostly
lower following the midday monthly USDA data that predicted
larger-than-expected U.S. ending stocks for each crop, due in
part to reduced exports.

CBOT May corn futures were up 4-3/4 cents at $3.92 per
bushel, highest since Aug. 15, as of 11:48 a.m. CST (1748 GMT).

CBOT May soybean futures eased 5-1/2 cents to
$10.59-3/4 per bushel and CBOT May wheat down 2-1/2 cents
to $4.94-3/4.

"The (corn) exports were eye-popping," said Midwest
Marketing Solutions analyst Brian Hoops. "They jumped 125
million bushels last month and another 175 million bushels this
month. That's a big swing, when exports are running behind last
year's pace."

U.S. corn export sales have spiked so far this year after
dry and hot conditions took a toll on the crop in Argentina, the
No. 3 global corn and soy exporter.

The USDA slashed its outlook for Argentina corn and soy
production but increased its estimate for soy production in
Brazil, the top global soy producer and exporter.

"Argentine soybeans were at 47 million tonnes," said
MaxYield Cooperative analyst Karl Setzer. "We did cut off 7
million tonnes from February but according to everybody you talk
to, as long as we hold above 44 million tonnes it's not going to
impact global balance sheets long term because that's what they
need to meet demand."

Separate USDA weekly data released at midmorning on Thursday
showed U.S. corn exports last week at 1.9 million tonnes and
soybean sales of 2.7 million tonnes - both above the range of
analyst expectations. Weekly sales of 428,400 tonnes of U.S.
wheat were within the range of estimates.
(Additional reporting by Karl Plume in Chicago and Mark
Weinraub in Washington; Editing by Bill Trott)

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