GRAINS-Corn dips after rally, tightening global supplies curb losses
* Corn eases from 7-1/2-year high, lower production limits decline
* Wheat falls for 2nd session, soybeans little changed
* China's 2020 soybean imports soar 13% to record high (Adds quote in paragraphs 3-4; details on China's soybean purchases, fund positioning)
By Naveen Thukral
SINGAPORE, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Chicago corn futures lost ground on Thursday as the market took a breather after hitting a 7-1/2-year peak in the previous session, although losses were limited by tight global supplies.
Soybeans edged higher, while wheat slid for a second straight session.
"The USDA's (U.S. Department of Agriculture) cut to corn crop yield estimates in Tuesday's report is still ringing in market ears," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at the Commonwealth bank of Australia.
"Lower U.S. yields, along with creeping cuts to South American crops forecasts (by the USDA and others) is moving the global feed balance into tighter territory."
The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was down 0.2% at $5.23-1/4 a bushel, as of 0256 GMT, after climbing to its highest since mid-2013 at $5.41-1/2 a bushel on Wednesday.
Soybeans added 0.1% to $14.07-1/2 a bushel, while wheat lost 0.9% to $6.54-3/4 a bushel.
The USDA revised downwards its estimate of 2020/21 U.S. corn production to below trade expectations and lowered its outlook for ending stocks.
The agency pegged the 2020 U.S. corn harvest at 14.182 billion bushels based on an average yield of 172.0 bushels per acre and soybean production at 4.135 billion bushels on a yield of 50.2 bushels. All were below average trade expectations, particularly in the case of corn.
The soybean market is being underpinned by strong demand, led by top buyer China.
China's soybean imports hit a record high in 2020, customs data showed on Thursday, after crushers ramped up purchases amid improved margins and healthy demand from the country's rapidly recovering pig sector.
China bought 100.33 million tonnes of the oilseed in 2020, up 13% from 88.51 million tonnes in 2019, according to the General Administration of Customs, the highest annual imports on record.
The USDA announced on Wednesday morning that private exporters reported the sale of 464,300 tonnes of soybeans to unknown destinations, the biggest daily soybean sale since June.
Argentine farmers called off a three-day-old sales strike on Wednesday, hours before it had been scheduled to end, after the government agreed to free corn export from a recently decreed limit of 30,000 tonnes a day.
The export cap that had been imposed at the start of the week was criticised by growers who said it would weigh on production. Argentina, the world's No. 3 corn exporter, is also the top international supplier of soymeal livestock feed.
The U.S. soybean crush likely rose in December to the second-highest level on record for any month, capping the busiest year of processing ever for the industry, according to analysts polled ahead of a National Oilseed Processors Association report due on Friday.
Commodity funds were net sellers of CBOT soybean, wheat, soymeal and soyoil futures contracts on Wednesday, traders said. They were net buyers of CBOT corn. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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