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U.S. wheat, corn set for weekly losses on global demand concerns

By Enrico Dela Cruz

Sept 16 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures edged up in Asian trading on Friday, but were set for a weekly fall along with corn, pressured by worries about demand prospects amid growing risks of a global economic slowdown.

Commodities markets came under pressure this week amid fears that more aggressive interest rate hikes to curb inflation would dampen global economic growth and hit demand.

Soybean slipped, extending losses to a fourth session, though Monday's big gain kept it on track for a weekly rise.

A tentative agreement to avoid a shutdown of U.S. railroads, which are vital to grain exports, added pressure on prices, analysts said.

The most-traded wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was up 0.3% at $8.47-1/2 a bushel, as of 0521 GMT, but has dropped more than 2% this week.

CBOT corn fell 0.3% to $6.75-3/4 a bushel, and was down more than 1% this week.

CBOT soybeans shed 0.5% to $14.44-3/4 a bushel, but has gained more than 2% this week.

"U.S. grain exports narrowly avoided disaster on Thursday as the government reached a tentative deal with railway labor unions," said Karen Braun, a market analyst for Reuters.

A rail shutdown could have frozen almost 30% of U.S. cargo shipments by weight, stoked inflation, cost the American economy as much as $2 billion per day and unleashed a cascade of transport woes affecting U.S. energy, agriculture, manufacturing, healthcare and retail sectors.

Soybean prices are expected to maintain a volatile run in the short term, analysts at Zhongzhou Futures in China said in a note.

"On the one hand, the expected warm and dry weather is beneficial to crops, which will help American farmers to harvest early autumn," they said.

"On the other hand, competition from South American supplies continues to put pressure on U.S. soybean exports."

(Reporting by Enrico Dela Cruz in Manila; Editing by Neha Arora and Uttaresh.V)

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