GRAINS-Corn futures firm near 7-1/2 high year as China stays in focus

 (Updates with European trading, changes byline/dateline)
    By Gus Trompiz and Mai Nguyen
    PARIS/HANOI, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Chicago corn futures were higher on
Thursday, trading, near a 7-1/2 year high, as rising demand from China continued
to support prices and cushion fallout from a slide in equity markets.
    Soybean futures were also firm, underpinned by Chinese demand and worries
about rainfall hampering early harvesting in Brazil.
    Wheat was lower but pared losses from earlier in the day as corn recovered
from an earlier fall.
    The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) most-active corn contract was up
1.4% at $5.41-1/4 a bushel at 1245 GMT, having hit its highest since June 2013
in the previous session at $5.43-3/4.
    Corn fell earlier on Thursday as a slide in share prices and a rise in the
dollar curbed grain markets, before resuming its rally. 
    "Chinese imports remain the subject of heated debate on the corn market,"
Commerzbank said in a note.
    Expected record Chinese imports of corn and soybeans in the coming seasons
will continue to absorb U.S. supplies, Chicago-based consultancy AgResource Co
said on Tuesday.
    "We don't know the depth of PRC (People's Republic of China) corn demand but
we do know that they have drawn down their internal corn reserves, that they are
auctioning off large amounts of wheat," said Richard J. Feltes, head of market
insights at broker R.J. O'Brien.
    Chinese demand was also drawing down U.S. supplies of soybeans.
    U.S. soy processors, fresh off their busiest year on record, have booked
soybean purchases well beyond their normal few weeks of supply amid fears of soy
shortages later this season.
    CBOT soybeans were up 0.8% at $13.85-1/2 a bushel, while CBOT wheat
 was down 0.4% at $6.55-3/4 a bushel. 
    Wheat traders were assessing the risk of export curbs in Argentina as Russia
prepares to levy an export tax from mid-February.
    Argentina is looking for ways to ensure ample domestic wheat supplies
without having to halt exports, a top official said on Wednesday.
 Prices at 1245 GMT                                                
                              Last  Change    Pct      End  Ytd Pct
                                             Move     2020     Move
  CBOT wheat                655.75   -2.50  -0.38   640.50     2.38
  CBOT corn                 541.25    7.25   1.36   484.00    11.83
  CBOT soy                 1385.50   10.75   0.78  1311.00     5.68
  Paris wheat Mar           229.25   -1.75  -0.76   213.25     7.50
  Paris maize Mar           214.75   -0.75  -0.35   198.50     8.19
  Paris rape Feb            451.50    6.75   1.52   418.25     7.95
  WTI crude oil              52.73   -0.12  -0.23    48.52     8.68
  Euro/dlr                    1.21    0.00  -0.07   1.2100    -0.01
 Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel, Paris
 futures in euros per tonne

 (Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Mai Nguyen; Editing by Rashmi Aich,
Alexandra Hudson)