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GRAINS-Soybeans near 3-month top on China trade optimism, north-central U.S. winter storm

* Soybeans near 3-month high on talk of China purchase offer * Forecasts of Midwest snowstorm lent support * Traders square positions ahead of Thursday's monthly USDA data (Recasts; updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline, adds dateline) By Julie Ingwersen CHICAGO, Oct 9 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures climbed to their highest level in nearly three months on Wednesday, supported by optimism about increased Chinese purchases, as well fears that a winter storm in the Upper Midwest could threaten late-maturing crops. Corn and wheat futures were little changed, consolidating after touching near two-month highs and ahead of a U.S. government crop report due on Thursday. As of 1:03 p.m. CDT (1803 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade November soybeans were up 4 cents at $9.24-1/2 per bushel after reaching $9.31-1/2, the contract's highest since July 15. CBOT December corn was down 3/4 cent at $3.95 a bushel after touching $3.97-1/4, its highest since Aug. 12. CBOT December wheat was up 3/4 cent at $5.01 after rising to $5.04-1/2, its highest since Aug. 9. Soybeans led an early rally after the Financial Times reported that the team of China's lead trade negotiator had offered to boost annual purchases of soybeans to 30 million tonnes compared with 20 million at present as the two countries seek to resolve their trade dispute. Vice Premier Liu He, China's top trade negotiator, is scheduled to travel to Washington for their next round of trade talks on Oct 10-11. "An additional 10 million tonnes brings them (China) back to where they had been over the last couple years. It's not anything that would change our balance sheet significantly, but it's an indication that they are trying to get some sort of an agreement," said Brian Hoops, analyst with Midwest Market Solutions. Traders were also monitoring a winter storm brewing in the northern U.S. Plains and Rocky Mountains that is expected to bring freezing temperatures late this week into the Dakotas, Nebraska and portions of Minnesota and Iowa. "While it is not unusual for temperatures to reach these levels during early to mid-October across the north central U.S., a significant portion of the corn and soybean crops have not yet reached maturity," space technology company Maxar said in a daily weather note. CBOT corn futures jumped 2% on Tuesday on worries about potential crop damage and delays from the storm before consolidating on Wednesday. "We are going to see some harvest delays," Hoops said, adding, "And we've got the (U.S. Department of Agriculture) report out tomorrow, with the expectations of a bullish slant." Ahead of the USDA's monthly supply/demand reports, analysts surveyed by Reuters on average expected the government to lower its estimates of U.S. 2019/20 yield, production and ending stocks for both corn and soybeans. Also Thursday, the USDA is set to report on weekly export sales. Traders expected the government to show export sales in the week to Oct. 3 at 300,000 to 600,000 tonnes for wheat, 500,000 to 800,000 tonnes for corn and 1.3 million to 1.8 million tonnes for soybeans. CBOT prices as of 1:00 p.m. CDT (1800 GMT): Net Pct Volume Last change change CBOT wheat WZ9 501.00 0.75 0.2 37910 CBOT corn CZ9 394.75 -1.00 -0.3 113451 CBOT soybeans SX9 924.50 4.00 0.4 132905 CBOT soymeal SMZ9 310.40 3.50 1.1 51479 CBOT soyoil BOZ9 29.64 -0.18 -0.6 47555 NOTE: CBOT December wheat and corn and November soybeans shown in cents per bushel, December soymeal in dollars per short ton and soyoil in cents per pound. (Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Editing by Grant McCool)

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