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GRAINS-Soybeans gain as South American supply falters

* Argentine strike lifts soybeans despite rain

* Export sales below lower end of expectations

* ADM temporarily closing corn processing plant in Nebraska (Updates with closing prices)

CHICAGO, Dec 23 (Reuters) - Chicago soybeans continued to rally on Wednesday as an Argentine labor strike slowed exports, even as rain moving into the country relieved some concern over drought.

Wheat and corn followed soybeans, supported by Argentina’s export woes and concerns over prolonged dryness for developing South American crops.

The most active soybean futures on the Chicago Board Of Trade gained 10 cents to $12.60 per bushel, after reaching $12.67-3/4 per bushel, the highest on a continuous basis for the most-active contract since June 23, 2014.

CBOT corn added 3-3/4 cents higher at $4.47-1/4 per bushel, after reaching $4.49-3/4 per bushel, its highest level since July 15, 2019, while wheat lifted 5-3/4 cents at $6.17 per bushel.

Long-term dryness outweighed signs of precipitation in Argentina and showers across Brazil earlier this month, traders said.

Meanwhile, near-term soymeal shipments have been hampered by stalled labor talks at Argentine ports.

The markets were unfazed as U.S. soybean export sales fell to a marketing-year low of 352,800 tonnes the week ended Dec. 17, down 62% from the previous week and 47% from the prior 4-week average and well below trade estimates of 550,000-800,000 tonnes.

“The fact that the demand was a little softer this morning isn’t a major concern,” said Brian Hoops, senior marketing analyst at Midwest Market Solutions. “It wasn’t unexpected.”

Expectations for continued export demand have replaced softer domestic consumption, said John Zanker, market analyst at Risk Management Commodities.

Archer Daniels Midland said on Tuesday it was closing a corn processing plant in Nebraska because of high inventory through Dec. 27.

“We’re going to struggle with the ethanol industry for the next three months,” Zanker said. “Corn is fairly priced, given the projected carryout.”

Wheat moved higher as traders monitored the impact of the strike in Argentina on wheat shipments.

Despite recent strength, an overall weaker dollar adds optimism to U.S. wheat exports, analyst Hoops said.. (Reporting by Christopher Walljasper; additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney; editing by Steve Orlofsky and Grant McCool)

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