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GRAINS-Soybeans extend gains for fourth session on veg oil rally; corn mixed

* Range-bound corn market eyes U.S. planting estimates

* Wheat falls as Northern Hemisphere weather weighs (Updates with closing prices)

CHICAGO, March 24 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures gained for a fourth straight session on Wednesday supported by tightness in vegetable oil markets as traders anticipate U.S. planting data next week.

Nearby corn futures rose, while deferred contracts representing the 2021 crop softened ahead of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s March 31 planting intentions and quarterly stocks reports.

Wheat futures eased as improved growing conditions in the United States hung over the market.

The most-active soybean futures contract on the Chicago Board of Trade ended up 9-1/2 cents at $14.32-3/4 per bushel.

CBOT benchmark May corn added 2 cents to settle at $5.53-1/4 per bushel, while new-crop December corn fell 3/4 cent to at $4.69. CBOT wheat slid 10 cents to end at$6.24-3/4 a bushel.

Despite a slowdown in export demand for U.S. soybeans, the oilseed has found renewed support this week on strong edible oil demand, linked to tightening supplies of soybeans as well as vegetable oils and expectations of more U.S. biofuel demand under President Joe Biden.

“The demand for soy oil internationally is still there. The demand for meal internationally is still there,” said Dan Hussey, senior market strategist at Zaner Group. “We’re running out, or getting near pipeline beans in the U.S.”

Support for futures from the vegetable oil tensions has helped counter pressure from the arrival of Brazil’s rain-delayed soybean harvest, and improving moisture levels that have improved prospects for Argentina’s crops.

Traders in the corn market weighed private forecasts of a big U.S. corn area ahead of the USDA’s March 31 estimates.

“We’re really marking time ahead of next week’s report. We’ve got corn and soybean prices consolidating just below multi-year highs, and generally friendly fundamentals, but not enough to take them to the next level ahead of the report,” said Arlan Suderman, chief commodities economist at StoneX.

Rains in the U.S. Plains have improved winter wheat crop ratings this month, according to USDA data, adding pressure to the market. (Reporting by Christopher Walljasper; editing by Grant McCool)

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