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GRAINS-Corn gains for fifth day on strong demand, wheat eases

    * Corn near 1-week high on Chinese demand for U.S. supplies
    * Chicago soybeans, wheat ease

 (Adds quote, updates prices)
    By Naveen Thukral and Sybille de La Hamaide
    PARIS, March 17 (Reuters) - Chicago corn futures gained for
a fifth consecutive session on Wednesday as Chinese purchases of
U.S. supplies underpinned the market.
    Wheat prices eased after rising for two straight sessions, 
while soybeans fell.
    "News of a hefty U.S. export sale to China was a plus," said
Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy, Commonwealth
Bank of Australia.
    The most-active corn contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade
(CBOT) was up 0.1% to $5.55 a bushel as of 1149 GMT, after
gaining 0.9% on Tuesday.
    Soybeans were down 0.6% at $14.14-3/4 a bushel and
wheat fell 0.7% to $6.42-1/4 a bushel.
    "Wheat prices were under pressure due to the improved crop
rating and the possibility of the Russian government lifting its
export tax rules," French consultancy Agritel said.
    The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Tuesday
confirmed U.S. corn sales to China totalling 1.156 million
tonnes, the highest since January.
    The sales came after the USDA on Monday reported one of the
strongest weeks of corn export inspections on record.

    There could be more demand for corn imports as China faces a
threat from armyworm, a pest that attacks corn among other
crops.  
    Pressure to prevent and control armyworm in China this year
is significantly higher than last year, the country's
agriculture ministry said on Tuesday.
    Russia is prepared to stop interfering in the regulation of
grain exports when the market stabilises, the Interfax news
agency cited Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev as saying on
Tuesday.
    
 Prices at 1149 GMT                                              
                              Last  Change    Pct      End    Ytd
                                             Move     2020    Pct
                                                             Move
  CBOT wheat                642.25   -4.75  -0.73   640.50   0.27
  CBOT corn                 555.00    0.75   0.14   484.00  14.67
  CBOT soy                 1414.75   -8.50  -0.60  1311.00   7.91
  Paris wheat               222.25    0.25   0.11   213.25   4.22
  Paris maize               216.50    0.50   0.23   219.00  -1.14
  Paris rapeseed            523.75   -2.00  -0.38   418.25  25.22
  WTI crude oil              64.21   -0.59  -0.91    48.52  32.34
  Euro/dlr                    1.19    0.00  -0.03   1.2213  -2.60
 Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel,
 Paris futures in euros per tonne
 
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