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GRAINS-Corn slide abates as market wrestles with crop prospects

* Corn down sharply this week on improved crop conditions * But acreage uncertainty still hangs over market * Wheat, soybeans also higher after losses this week * Fed rate cut expectations buoy wider markets (Updates with European trading, changes byline/dateline) By Gus Trompiz and Naveen Thukral PARIS/SINGAPORE, July 19 (Reuters) - Chicago corn futures edged higher on Friday after a sharp drop this week as investors weighed improved growing conditions against uncertainty over acreage levels following a rain-soaked spring. Wheat also ticked up on bargain-buying after also falling steeply this week due to the weakness in corn and supply pressure from U.S. and European wheat harvests. Soybeans similarly regained ground as traders also pondered whether a call on Thursday between senior U.S. and Chinese officials may herald progress in a trade dispute that has stalled U.S. soybean exports. Investor sentiment was buoyed too by growing expectations that the U.S. central bank will cut interest rates later this month. The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade was up 0.4% at $4.31-1/2 a bushel by 1252 GMT, after holding above Thursday's two-week low of $4.28. "The corn story is far from over," said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at brokerage IKON Commodities. "The market still needs to reach a consensus as to how many acres were lost due to rains and flooding." Last week, grain markets were underpinned by fears that U.S. corn and soybeans, already weakened by soggy planting conditions, could suffer from prolonged hot and dry weather. But rain this week in the Midwest and forecasts for heat to ease next week created selling pressure this week. Investors are already looking ahead to a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) crop report on Aug. 12, which is expected to include updated planting estimates, for a clearer indication of harvest prospects. CBOT soybeans were up 1.1% at $9.08-3/4 a bushel, while wheat added 0.5% to $4.95-3/4. USDA export data on Thursday showing China had cancelled a U.S. soybean cargo last week had dampened sentiment in the soybean market, although news of Thursday's call between U.S. and Chinese officials maintained some hope for progress. Commodity funds were net sellers of Chicago Board of Trade wheat, corn, soybean, soymeal and soyoil contracts on Thursday, traders said. Prices at 1252 GMT Last Change Pct End Ytd Pct Move 2018 Move CBOT wheat 495.75 2.25 0.46 503.25 -1.49 CBOT corn 431.50 1.75 0.41 375.00 15.07 CBOT soy 908.75 9.75 1.08 895.00 1.54 Paris wheat Sep 175.50 0.75 0.43 190.50 -7.87 Paris maize Aug 179.50 1.50 0.84 187.25 -4.14 Paris rape Aug 372.50 0.50 0.13 362.25 2.83 WTI crude oil 55.66 0.36 0.65 45.41 22.57 Euro/dlr 1.12 -0.01 -0.4 1.1469 -2.15 7 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 Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Mark Potter)

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