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332605

GRAINS-U.S. soybean and wheat futures rise 2.2%; corn firm

(Updates with closing prices, adds forecast for weekly crop ratings report)

By Mark Weinraub

CHICAGO, Aug 22 (Reuters) - Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures rose 2.2% on Monday, supported by hopes for a pick-up in the pace of exports as farmers in top global consumer China struggle with hot and dry weather that is expected to reduce the size of the crop there.

"It appears that exporters are scampering around trying to secure beans," said Greg Grow, director of agribusiness at Archer Financial Services. "Right now, the market needs soybeans for nearby demand."

Wheat futures also rose 2.2%, with short-covering noted as the most-active CBOT soft red winter wheat contract extended its rebound from the 6-1/2-month low hit last week.

CBOT corn futures were firm, following the gains in wheat and soybeans, but the strength was limited as traders waited for the U.S. Agriculture Department's weekly crop conditions report, as well as early updates from fields surveyed in Ohio, South Dakota and Nebraska on the annual Pro Farmer Crop Tour.

CBOT November soybean futures settled up 31-1/4 cents at $14.35-25 a bushel and CBOT December soft red winter wheat was 17-1/4 cents higher at $7.88-1/4 a bushel.

CBOT December corn was 5-3/4 cents higher at $6.29 a bushel.

Analysts were expecting the USDA's crop conditions report to show good-to-excellent ratings for corn at 57% and for soybeans at 58%, both unchanged from a week ago.

After some beneficial showers in recent days, traders are monitoring forecasts to see if a dry start to this week is followed by rain in parched western zones of the U.S. Midwest.

USDA said on Monday that weekly export inspections of soybeans totaled 686,583 tonnes in the week ended Aug. 18, in line with market forecasts. USDA also boosted its estimate of the previous week's soybean inspections to 768,328 tonnes from 744,571 tonnes.

Corn export inspections were 740,508 tonnes and wheat export inspections were 594,273 tonnes. Both were in line with a range of analysts' estimates. (Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Paul Simao)

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