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GRAINS-U.S. wheat, soybean futures end firm; corn weakens

(Recasts, adds closing prices, details on talks for Ukraine grain exports)

By Mark Weinraub

CHICAGO, Oct 17 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures ended slightly higher on Monday but closed well off their session peaks as traders monitored developments in efforts to keep a Black Sea shipping lane open for Ukraine grain exports.

Corn futures sank on seasonal harvest pressure while soybeans firmed on bullish export data, traders said.

Wheat surged early on Monday, recovering from sharp declines in three of the past four sessions, after Russia told a United Nations representative that the extension of a Black Sea grain deal was dependent on the West easing restrictions on Russia's own agricultural and fertilizer exports.

But the wheat market gave up most of those gains when U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said officials held "positive and constructive" discussions in Moscow on expanding the deal.

Chicago Board of Trade December soft red winter wheat futures ended up 1-1/4 cents at $8.61 a bushel after peaking at $8.77-3/4.

CBOT November soybean futures were 1-1/2 cents higher at $13.85-1/4 a bushel.

The U.S. Agriculture Department said on Monday morning that weekly export inspections of soybeans totaled 1.882 million tonnes, nearly double the prior week's total and above market expectations.

But traders said concerns that top buyer China will soon look to other suppliers limited the gains in the soy market.

"It is still expected that Chinese demand will be completed by mid to late November and that Chinese demand after that will shift to South America," Tomm Pfitzenmaier, analyst for Summit Commodity Brokerage, said in a research note.

CBOT December corn was down 6-1/4 cents at $6.83-1/2 a bushel.

A USDA report on Monday afternoon showed that corn harvest was 45% complete as of Oct. 16, slightly below market forecasts but ahead of the five-year average for mid-October of 40%. (Reporting by Mark Weinraub in Chicago Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore Editing by Andrea Ricci and Matthew Lewis)

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