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GRAINS-Soybeans rise on demand hopes, wheat falls for 3rd session

* Soybeans firm on expectations of higher demand for U.S. supplies

* Wheat prices fall for third session, Chicago corn futures fall (Adds quote in paragraphs 3-4, updates prices)

By Naveen Thukral

SINGAPORE, April 21 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures ticked higher on Thursday, holding on to gains made in recent sessions, as expectations of higher demand for U.S. supplies underpinned the market.

Wheat lost more ground, while corn eased.

"Unlike grains, oilseed prices have gained materially over the past couple of days," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

"Soybean prices, old and new crop, are at new highs for the season."

The most-active Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) soybean contract added 0.1% to $17.19 a bushel, as of 0159 GMT.

Wheat lost 0.7% to $10.90 a bushel and corn gave up 0.3% to $8.07-3/4 a bushel.

Export prices for U.S. soybeans are competitive with Brazilian supplies for May loadings and cheaper than Brazil for June, July and August, Arlan Suderman, StoneX chief commodities economist, wrote in a client note. Brazil and the United States are the world's top soybean exporters.

However, China's soybean imports from the United States plunged in March from a year earlier, customs data showed on Wednesday, as poor margins curbed buying.

China, the world's top importer of soybeans, brought in 3.37 million tonnes last month from the U.S., down from 7.18 million a year earlier, data from the General Administration of Customs showed.

For corn the market continue to monitor weather forecasts for the U.S. Midwest, where planting is off to a slow start.

Wheat futures slid but the market has underlying support from dry conditions in the U.S. Plains that have threatened winter wheat production prospects. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Monday rated 30% of U.S. winter wheat in good-to-excellent condition, a 26-year low for this time of year.

In Argentina, wheat planting area for the 2022/23 season is expected to be around 6.5 million hectares, down from a revised 6.7 million hectares in the previous season, the Buenos Aires Cereal Exchange said on Wednesday.

High fertiliser prices, rising input costs, a relative improvement in barley margins and domestic policies affecting wheat planting are some of the reasons for the smaller area.

Indian wheat could offer a cheaper option for top importer Egypt, but will have to overcome quality controls set by the country's agriculture ministry as well as higher freight costs.

Last week, Egypt's agriculture ministry announced it had approved India as a wheat import origin but placed several conditions including inspection for pests prior to export and the use of only a specific pesticide, according to a ministry document seen by Reuters.

Commodity funds were net buyers of CBOT corn, soybean, soymeal and soyoil futures contracts on Wednesday, and net sellers of wheat futures, traders said. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta)

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