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Wheat eases on supply prospects; China COVID woes cap soybean gains

By Mei Mei Chu and Sybille de La Hamaide KUALA LUMPUR/PARIS, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat prices edged down on Wednesday, hit by prospects of more supplies from the European Union, while a rise in COVID-19 cases in China limited gains on soybeans.

French wheat sales to China and talk of Polish or German wheat being booked in the United States are creating an unexpected wave of demand for EU supplies after exports had been curbed by Russian competition in recent weeks, traders said.

"Ideas that some European wheat 'pencils in' to being exported to the U.S. East Coast helped to pressure the market," market research firm Hightower said in a report.

Talks of a record crop from Russia helped add to the bearish tone, it added.

The most-active wheat contract on the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) slipped 0.65% to $8.05-1/4 a bushel by 1139 GMT. Soybeans rose 0.1% to $14.31 a bushel, and corn rose 0.3% to $6.61.

The market will be closed on Thursday for Thanksgiving.

Soybean futures are still holding a risk premium for potential weather problems in Brazil and Argentina, which have been plagued by dry conditions, according to Hightower.

"The situation in Argentina remains catastrophic as a result of the continuing drought. After having impacted wheat production, corn and soybean sowings are well behind a normal year," consultancy Agritel said in a note.

Rising COVID-19 cases in China deepened worries about the economy and dimming hopes for a quick reopening, raising concerns that it could also dent the country's commodities demand, especially for soybeans.

Corn futures saw pressure from wheat and a lack of fresh news.

Brazil's National Association of Grain Exporters said on Tuesday the country's corn exports could jump exponentially next year if farmers harvest a full crop and Chinese demand is strong.

Workers at the largest U.S. rail union voted against a tentative contract deal reached in September, raising the possibility of a year-end strike that could cause significant damage to the country's economy and strand vital shipments of food and fuel.

Prices at 1139 GMT Last Change Pct Move CBOT wheat 805.25 -5.25 -0.65 CBOT corn 661.00 1.75 0.27 CBOT soy 1431.00 1.25 0.09 Paris wheat 328.75 -4.75 -1.42 Paris maize 304.25 -1.75 -0.57 Paris rapeseed 596.75 -8.00 -1.32 WTI crude oil 79.05 -1.90 -2.35 Euro/dlr 1.0311 0.00 0.09 Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel, Paris futures in euros per tonne.

(Reporting by Mei Mei Chu in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Editing by Uttaresh.V, Rashmi Aich and Shounak Dasgupta)

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