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GRAINS-Markets drift ahead of USDA, Chinese buying awaited
* Markets await USDA global crop, inventory reports
* Still no signs China is again buying U.S. soybeans
* (Updates with European trade, adds new comment, changes dateline)
By Michael Hogan
HAMBURG, Dec 11 (Reuters) - Chicago soybeans, wheat and corn were mixed on Tuesday as markets focused on monthly world agricultural supply and demand estimates from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) due to be published later in the day.
Intense market interest remained on whether or when China will resume soybean purchases in the United States. U.S. soybean exports to China collapsed after China slapped tariffs on U.S. supplies as the trade war between the two countries heated up.
"Markets are awaiting the USDA report later," said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager with INTL FCStone.
"The December world supply report traditionally contains few major changes but there is always the question of whether the USDA can surprise the market so we have a risk-off mood today."
Chicago Board of Trade January soybeans were up 0.1 percent at $9.11-1/4 a bushel at 1119 GMT.
March wheat was up 0.1 percent at $5.25-3/4 a bushel. March corn was down 0.07 percent at $3.83-3/4 a bushel.
After the G20 meeting on Dec. 1, the White House said China had agreed to start buying U.S. agricultural produce immediately - but there have been no signs of new Chinese soybean buying. China and the United States discussed the road map for the next stage of their trade talks on Tuesday.
"The markets are still waiting for concrete evidence that China is again buying U.S. soybeans," Ammermann said. "There were reports that China may buy 5 million tonnes of U.S. agricultural products but real signs of purchases are lacking, especially in U.S. soybeans."
"Attention is on U.S. cash soybean and corn markets for any signs of China sales. Some cash markets have been firm but not to the extent you would expect if there was a major return to Chinese imports from the U.S."
China imported 5.38 million tonnes of soybeans in November, down 38 percent on the year the lowest monthly amount in two years.
"The decline in Chinese soybean imports is mainly at the expense of U.S. suppliers," Commerzbank said in a note.
The USDA world estimates are scheduled for 1700 GMT release.
Analysts generally expect only modest changes for U.S. soy, corn and wheat ending stocks for the 2018-19 marketing year.
"Most crop yields are generally well known although there could be parts of the global picture which could change such as corn in Ukraine," Ammermann said.
"The overall demand picture is also known, with the China trade war already looked to be factored in." (Reporting by Michael Hogan, editing by David Evans)
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