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GRAINS-Wheat eases from 3-1/2 month peak in profit-taking setback
* CBOT wheat hits highest since June 28, turns lower
* Soybeans and corn mostly flat as market eyes harvest (New throughout, updates prices, market activity and comments to U.S. market open; new byline, changes dateline, previous PARIS/SINGAPORE)
By Karl Plume
CHICAGO, Oct 21 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures declined on Monday on profit taking after three sessions of gains on concerns about weather-reduced southern hemisphere crops that had lifted the market to multi-month highs.
Soybeans were mixed amid worries about reduced yields and late harvesting, while corn drifted lower on dull demand. Both markets remained in a narrow trading range as investors awaited fresh U.S. harvest progress data and updated weather forecasts.
Widespread rains stalled harvesting across much of the U.S. farm belt on Monday, but the latest forecasts are calling for below-normal precipitation over the next two weeks.
Worsening wheat crop prospects in southern hemisphere exporters Argentina and Australia, as well as weather-hampered harvests in North America, have shifted attention away from large global stocks of wheat.
"That steep rally that we've seen over the last couple of weeks triggered some profit taking," said Brian Basting, analyst with Advance Trading. "But we're still looking at dry conditions across Australia and the possibility for dry conditions lowering the crop in Argentina too," he said.
Chicago Board of Trade December wheat was down 7-3/4 cents at $5.24-1/2 a bushel at 11:49 a.m. CDT (1649 GMT) after peaking at $5.35, the highest for a most-active contract since June 28.
On Friday, National Australia Bank said it expects that country's wheat production to drop to 15.5 million tonnes, cutting its forecast to well below recent market estimates.
In Argentina, recent rains have not been strong enough to help wheat fields after weeks of dryness, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange said on Thursday.
Global wheat prices, including in top exporter Russia, have been rising due to the production concerns and strong demand from importers such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
CBOT December corn was down 2-1/2 cents at $3.88-1/2 a bushel while November soybeans were down 1/4 cent at $9.33-3/4 a bushel.
Corn futures were pressured by a weak U.S. export pace, with sales and shipments at less than half of year-ago levels.
Snowfall and freezing temperatures in northern U.S. states have raised additional risks over ongoing harvesting of corn, soybeans and wheat.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has said it will collect extra data on corn and soybean acreage in Minnesota and North Dakota following the recent snow.
The USDA's weekly crop progress report is expected to show 34% of the corn harvest is complete as of Sunday and 42% of the soybean harvest. (Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by David Gregorio)
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