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GRAINS-Wheat rises as dry weather curbs Russian output; corn firm

* Wheat settles up

* Corn, soybeans firm as dry weather threatens U.S. Midwest crops (Adds closing prices, USDA crop progress numbers)

By Barbara Smith

CHICAGO, July 29 (Reuters) - Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) wheat futures settled just over 1% higher on Monday, climbing for the third time in the last four sessions, underpinned by lower estimates for output in top exporter Russia.

Soybeans and corn settled higher after closing down on Friday, as the focus turned to unfavourably dry weather this week in parts of the U.S. Midwest.

SovEcon, one of Russia's leading agriculture consultancies, said on Friday it had lowered its forecast for Russia's grain exports in the 2019/20 marketing season, which started on July 1, by 7 million tonnes to 41.9 million tonnes.

The most-active wheat contract on the CBOT settled up 7-1/2 cents, or 1.3%, at $5.03-1/2 a bushel. Corn settled up 2-1/2 cents, or 0.5%, at $4.27 a bushel and soybeans settled 3-1/4 cents higher, or 0.3%, at $9.04-1/4 a bushel.

Traders are waiting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to release updated acreage estimates for grains next month, after the June acreage report was considered to be an overestimate of how much corn was planted.

"We're probably going to chop sideways until the August 12th numbers come out," said Chris Manns, managing director for Traders Group.

The USDA on Monday released a weekly crop progress report that raised the good to excellent rating for corn by 1 percentage point to 58%. Analysts expected it to stay unchanged.

The rating for spring wheat declined 3 percentage points to 73%, which is below analyst expectations of an unchanged rating.

Soybeans were unchanged, at 54% good to excellent condition, on par with analysts estimates.

For corn, threats to production remain as forecasts indicated hot and dry weather could return to the U.S. Midwest in the weeks ahead, particularly in parts of producing states Illinois and Indiana, Commodity Weather Group said.

"We're going to need some rain at some point," said Manns. "Every time a tractor moves in the fields, a cloud of dust follows it."

Agricultural markets are also eyeing progress in U.S.-China trade talks. The year-long trade war between the world's two largest economies has weighed on U.S. soybean prices.

U.S. and Chinese trade negotiators are in Shanghai this week for their first in-person talks since a G20 summit last month, as the two sides struggle to resolve deep differences on how to end the dispute.

China approved wheat imports from the Russian region of Kurgan and soybean imports from all parts of Russia, officials said, having all but halted U.S. soy imports as the trade dispute deepened.

China was the top buyer of U.S. soybeans until Beijing slapped a 25% tariff on shipments last year in response to U.S. tariffs on a range of Chinese products. (Reporting by Barbara Smith in Chicago Additional Reporting by Naveen Thukral; editing by Richard Pullin, Steve Orlofsky and Sonya Hepinstall)

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