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GRAINS-Soybeans hit highest in over 4 years as USDA sees smaller stocks

* USDA slashes U.S. inventory estimates

* Wheat and corn also rise (Recasts with European trade, new comment, changes dateline)

HAMBURG, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Chicago soybeans hit their highest in over four years on Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) sharply cut its forecasts of U.S. stockpiles and U.S. crops.

U.S. corn and soybean stockpiles this marketing year will fall to their smallest in seven years on reduced harvest expectations and strong exports to China and other regions, the USDA said on Tuesday.

Corn and wheat also remained firm because of tighter supplies forecast by the USDA.

Chicago Board of Trade most-active soybeans were up 0.8% at $11.56-1/4 a bushel at 1138 GMT, near the session high of $11.62-1/4 a bushel - the highest since June 2016.

Wheat rose 0.4% to $6.11 a bushel, having climbed 1.7% on Tuesday. Corn rose 0.5% to $4.25-1/4 a bushel, after on Tuesday hitting a contract high of $4.27-1/4, the highest for a most-active contract since July 2019.

“The USDA’s new estimates of supply and demand have been the catalyst for the rise,” said Tobin Gorey of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The U.S. stockpile estimates were smaller than expected, while the USDA nearly doubled its forecast for corn imports by China due to soaring domestic prices and rising feed grain demand as the Chinese pig industry recovers from a deadly livestock disease.

The USDA forecast 2020/21 U.S. corn season ending stocks at 1.702 billion bushels against analyst forecasts of 2.033 billion. It estimated U.S. soybean ending stocks at 190 million bushels against analyst forecasts of 235 million.

The U.S. corn harvest was cut to 14.507 billion bushels, below forecasts of 14.659 billion and the U.S. soybean harvest was put at 4.170 billion bushels, under forecasts of 4.251 billion.

The USDA report “finally bought U.S. stocks, particularly for soy, into the danger zone,” Rabobank said in a report.

South American weather will have to be good in coming months to generate large enough harvests to limit the mounting U.S. stocks pressure, Rabobank said. (Reporting by Michael Hogan, additional reporting by Colin Packham, editing by Mark Potter)

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