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GRAINS-Wheat inches higher, expectations of near-term Russian exports cap gains

* Wheat firms after closing down 3% on Monday

* Corn falls, soybeans edge lower

SYDNEY, Dec 15 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures edged higher on Tuesday, rebounding from sharp losses in the previous session, though gains were checked amid expectations that Russia could accelerate exports before a tax is introduced to curb sales.

Corn edged lower, while soybeans also fell after rallying nearly 1% in the previous session.

The most active wheat futures on the Chicago Board Of Trade were up 0.5% at $5.99-1/2 a bushel by 0348 GMT, after closing 3% lower on Monday after prices earlier hit a Nov. 25 high of $6.22 a bushel.

While wheat had soared in recent days on expectations for higher U.S. exports after Reuters reported Russia would move to limit exports, analysts said confirmation of a tax stoked expectations that the major grain exporter would accelerate sales in the meantime.

“Some are thinking that means there will be an acceleration of Russian exports in the period between now and mid-February,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy, Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Russia plans to impose an export tax of 25 euros ($30.4) a tonne on wheat exports between Feb. 15 and June 30, the economy minister said on Monday.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Agriculture Department on Monday said that weekly export inspections of wheat totalled 261,164 tonnes, below market expectations.

The most active corn futures were down 0.4% at $4.22-3/4 a bushel, after gaining 0.1% in the previous session.

The most active soybean futures were down 0.5% at $11.63-1/4 a bushel, having firmed 0.8% on Monday.

Soybeans drew support on forecasts that Brazil would be forced to import larger volumes amid tighter domestic supplies.

Brazil will likely import 800,000 tonnes of soybeans in 2021, oilseeds crushers’ association Abiove said on Monday. The group’s previous forecast was for 500,000 tonnes.

Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Rashmi Aich

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