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U.S. announces largest sale of corn to China since January

CHICAGO, March 16 (Reuters) - China booked its largest purchase of U.S. corn since January, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said on Tuesday.

The USDA confirmed that private exporters sold 1.156 million tonnes of U.S. corn to China, the biggest sale announced through the USDA's daily reporting system since Jan. 29, when China bought 2.1 million tonnes of the grain in the second-largest U.S. corn sale on record.

The USDA has projected that China will import a historically large 24 million tonnes of corn globally in the 2020/21 marketing year, in addition to other feed grains including barley, sorghum and wheat, as the country strives to rebuild its massive hog herd that has been hit by diseases.

China purchased 18.7 million tonnes of U.S. corn through March 4, USDA export sales data showed, although the Asian country had shipped less than 40% of the total.

Export demand from China helped lift Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) corn futures to a 7-1/2 year high of $5.74-1/4 a bushel last month. The market has since pared gains, but the benchmark contract was up 2-1/2 cents at $5.52 a bushel at 9:25 a.m. CDT (1425 GMT) following Tuesday's sales announcement.

China's pork production is forecast to increase by 14% in 2021, the USDA's Foreign Agricultural Service post in Beijing said in a report dated March 3. (Reporting by Julie Ingwersen Editing by Alistair Bell)

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