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GRAINS-Soybeans rise on South American weather worries, wheat firm

* Poor South American crop weather supports soybeans

* Slow Chinese soybean demand limits price gains

* Wheat firm on U.S. export hopes

* Lack of USDA data restrains market (Recasts with European trade, adds new comment, changes dateline)

By Michael Hogan

HAMBURG, Jan 15 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures rose on Tuesday on concerns over poor South American crop weather, but a lack of official data about U.S. export sales to China restrained dealing.

Wheat firmed after Monday's losses and corn rose.

"Soybeans are supported by fears about concern over crops losses in Brazil and Argentina," said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager with INTL FCStone. "There are forecasts of more rain in Brazil but the market wants to see more evidence that crops are being helped."

"Argentina is the world's largest soymeal exporter and any reduction in the soybean harvest could mean a cut in soymeal exports and a transfer of sales to other areas."

Chicago Board of Trade March soybeans rose 0.1 percent to $9.04-3/4 a bushel at 1223 GMT after falling on Monday partly on worries about low demand from China as the country remains locked in the trade war with the United States.

March wheat rose 0.2 percent to $5.15-3/4 a bushel. March corn rose 0.4 percent to $3.80-1/4 a bushel.

"Soybeans, wheat and corn are ticking up today but the lack of announcements including U.S. export sales from the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) because of the U.S. government shutdown means the market lacks the data it needs for major trading decisions," said Ammermann.

"The market remains in the dark about possible recent export sales of soybeans and other products to China. The absence of USDA data shows just how much the market relies on the USDA to make its trading decisions. The next round of U.S./China trade talks expected in Washington later this month are now being awaited."

Brazilian consultancy Agroconsult cut its forecast for Brazil's 2018/2019 soybean crop by 5.2 million tonnes after dry weather stressed soybeans. But in Argentina, excessive rain is causing fears of crop damage.

"The market is still trying to quantify what the losses may be from the adverse (South American) weather, and most estimates come in around the 5 to 10 million tonnes mark," said Ole Houe of brokerage IKON Commodities.

Russia's agriculture ministry on Monday confirmed its outlook for 2018-19 grain shipments, reducing expectations about limited sales from one of the world's largest exporters. But Russian export prices have been rising.

"Wheat is supported by hopes of more U.S. exports if Russian export supplies start to sell out after huge Russian shipments in past months. But as before, estimates of upcoming Russian exports remain high," Ammermann said. (Reporting by Michael Hogan, additional reporting by Naveen Thukral, editing by David Evans)

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