GRAINS-Soybeans rebound on strong Chinese demand, wheat firms
China Sept. soybean imports jump as low stockpiles spur buying
U.S. soy harvest 80% complete, corn 61%, ahead of average -USDA
U.N. seeks steps to relieve backlog in Black Sea exports deal
(Recasts with change in market direction, updates prices)
By Naveen Thukral
SINGAPORE, Oct 25 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures edged higher on Tuesday as strong demand led by top importer China underpinned the market, but a rapidly progressing U.S. harvest curbed gains.
Wheat rose after closing Monday lower on pressure from crop-friendly rains in the drought-hit U.S. plains.
The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) added 0.2% to $13.84-1/4 a bushel, as of 0355 GMT and corn was flat at $6.81-1/2 a bushel.
Wheat rose 0.1% to $8.39-1/4 a bushel.
U.S. weekly soybean export inspections topped trade estimates as shipments through Pacific Northwest terminals accelerated and Gulf Coast loadings were stronger than anticipated.
Corn inspections, however, remained lighter than normal for the season and wheat inspections were below trade estimates.
China's soybean imports in September rose 12% from a year earlier to 7.72 million tonnes, customs data showed on Monday, reversing a months-long trend of low arrivals.
September imports were up from 6.88 million tonnes a year earlier, data from the General Administration of Customs showed, and also higher than August imports of 7.17 million tonnes.
The U.S. soybean harvest was 80% complete as of Sunday, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said in a weekly progress report on Monday, ahead of the average estimate of 77% in a Reuters analyst poll, and the five-year average of 67% after a week of mostly clear skies helped speed fieldwork.
The U.S. corn harvest was 61% complete, the USDA said, ahead of the five-year above of 52% but just behind the average analyst estimate of 62%.
In South America, the planting of Brazil's 2022/2023 soybean crop reached 34% of the estimated area, against 24% in the previous week and 38% in the same period last year, according to a survey by AgRural on Monday.
The European Union's crop monitoring service MARS on Monday reduced further its forecast for this year's drought-affected EU maize harvest, but pointed to mostly favourable sowing conditions for winter cereals.
The grains market is closely watching the pace of crop exports from Ukraine's Black Sea ports ahead of the expiration next month of a wartime shipping corridor deal.
A U.N spokesperson said on Monday that "urgent" steps are needed to relieve a backlog of more than 150 ships involved in a deal, which allows Ukraine to export grain from ports in the Black Sea.
The comments come as Kyiv accused Russia of blocking full implementation of the agreement, which was brokered by the United Nations and Turkey in July to ease a global food crisis and which comes up for renewal next month. Russia has threatened to pull out over its own complaints.
Commodity funds were net sellers of CBOT wheat, corn, soybean and soymeal futures contracts on Monday and net buyers of soyoil futures, traders said. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Shailesh Kuber)
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