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310632

GRAINS-Wheat eases after strong rally, U.S. weather concerns limit losses

* Chicago wheat futures ease after gaining more than 3% on Tuesday

* Expectations of damage from U.S. cold weather underpin prices (Adds quote in paragraphs 3-4, details on U.S. soybean processing)

By Naveen Thukral

SINGAPORE, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat ticked lower on Wednesday as market participants took a breather after a more than 3% rally in the previous session, driven by cold weather across the U.S. grain belt which stoked concerns about crop losses.

Soybeans rose for a fourth consecutive session, while corn gained more ground.

"The very cold weather in U.S. winter wheat regions since the weekend prompted the gains," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at the Commonwealth bank of Australia, referring to Tuesday's rally.

"Many in the market fear that those very cold temperatures will have killed enough U.S. winter wheat crop to tighten 2021 supply. (But) not everyone is quite so convinced that the losses will be large."

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) was down 0.1% to $6.60-3/4 a bushel by 0340 GMT.

Soybeans added 0.1% to $13.86-1/2 a bushel and corn rose 0.1% to $5.53 a bushel.

Traders are focused on temperatures dropping below 0 degrees Fahrenheit (-18 Celsius) as far south as west-central Texas. Winter wheat was seen as vulnerable to the extreme cold in areas lacking adequate snow cover.

Commodity Weather Group last week estimated 10% of the U.S. soft wheat crop and 15% of the hard wheat crop were at risk of damage from winterkill caused by freezing temperatures.

Gains in the soybean market came on the back of strong demand.

U.S. soybean processors marked their second-largest monthly crush on record in January, the latest in a string of historically active months of soy processing, according to data released by the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) on Tuesday.

NOPA members, who handle about 95% of all soybeans processed in the United States, crushed 184.654 million bushels of soybeans last month, up from 183.159 million bushels in December and 176.940 million bushels in January 2020.

Commodity funds were net buyers of CBOT corn, wheat, soybean, soyoil and soymeal futures contracts on Tuesday, traders said.

Trader estimates of net fund buying in corn ranged widely from 8,500 to 30,000 contracts. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)

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