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 (Updates prices, adds quote) By Naveen Thukral and Sybille de La Hamaide SINGAPORE/PARIS, Jan 14 (Reuters) - Chicago corn futures lost ground on Thursday as the market paused for breath 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 at 1145 GMT, after climbing to its highest since mid-2013 at $5.41-1/2 a bushel on Wednesday. Soybeans added 0.2% to $14.08-3/4 a bushel, while wheat lost 0.4% to $6.58 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 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. CHINESE BUYING 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. "This bullish spiral is accentuated by the desire of the major exporting countries to also protect their own domestic markets from rampant food price inflation," French consultancy Agritel said in a note, pointing to Russia's plans to control its wheat exports from next month. 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. Prices at 1145 GMT Last Change Pct End Ytd Move 2020 Pct Move CBOT wheat 658.00 -2.50 -0.38 640.50 2.73 CBOT corn 523.25 -1.25 -0.24 484.00 8.11 CBOT soy 1408.75 2.50 0.18 1311.00 7.46 Paris wheat 227.25 0.50 0.22 213.25 6.57 Paris maize 211.00 0.75 0.36 219.00 -3.65 Paris rapeseed 438.75 -3.50 -0.79 418.25 4.90 WTI crude oil 52.84 -0.07 -0.13 48.52 8.90 Euro/dlr 1.22 0.00 -0.02 1.2213 -0.47 Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel, Paris futures in euros per tonne (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and David Evans)

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