GRAINS-Export demand helps wheat, soy climb
* U.S. soy up for second day, Chinese buying supports
* Wheat rises on hopes of rebound in U.S. exports
* Market watching weekly export sales at 1330 GMT
* Wheat still set for 8 percent fall in February
(Updates with European trading, changes dateline/byline) PARIS/SINGAPORE, Feb 28 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat and soybean futures rose on Thursday as signs of fresh export demand turned attention back to tight short-term supply in grains and soybeans. Corn edged higher to rise for a fourth consecutive day, touching its highest level in more than two weeks, as spot prices benefitted from low availability until big expected harvests in South America hit the market in the months ahead. "The market is realising that supply is very tight and it is going to be a big challenge to get soybeans and corn out of Brazil in time," said Victor Thianpiriya, agriculture strategist at ANZ in Singapore. "Across wheat and corn markets, tight supply is going to support prices for the first half of the year until South America comes into the market." Chicago Board of Trade March wheat added 1.35 percent to $7.13-3/4 a bushel by 1243 GMT and March soybeans gained 0.38 percent to $14.63. March corn rose 0.56 percent to $7.13-1/2. In soybeans, worries that logistical bottlenecks in Brazilian ports will slow exports of its ongoing harvest coincided with brisk Chinese demand. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday said private exporters had reported the sale of 240,000 tonnes of U.S soybeans, including 120,000 tonnes to China. Soy prices have been boosted by bargain hunting after they fell for three days in a row to shed 2.7 percent, while an eight-month low for wheat this week has also lured buyers. "Milling wheat market has been strongly supported by international demand over the past days as U.S. traders sold milling wheat to China, Japan, Taiwan and Egypt," Arnaud Saulais of Starsupply Commodity Brokers in Geneva said. U.S. wheat has become increasingly competitive and a tender announced by Saudi Arabia to purchase 110,000 tonnes of soft wheat and 440,000 tonnes of hard wheat could bring a fresh U.S. sale. Weekly U.S. export sales data at 1330 GMT will be watched by the market for further indications on demand. Traders said grain markets could also be moved on Thursday by end-of-month adjustments by operators. Despite Thursday's rise, front-month CBOT wheat is on track for a decline of more than 8 percent in February, a drop that has brought it to parity with corn and raised expectations of more animal-feed demand for wheat. Corn is on track for an almost 4 percent drop, its sixth monthly loss in seven. Deferred corn contracts have faced particular pressure from expectations of large plantings in the United States in the spring, which could lead to a large U.S. crop on top of expected big crops in South America.
* Prices as of 1243 GMT
Product Last Change Pct Move End 2012 Ytd PctCBOT wheat 713.75 9.50 +1.35 778.00 -8.26 CBOT corn 713.50 4.00 +0.56 698.25 2.18 CBOT soybeans 1463.00 5.50 +0.38 1418.75 3.12 Paris wheat 247.50 1.00 +0.41 250.25 -1.10 London wheat 206.25 0.90 +0.44 210.25 -1.90 Paris maize 227.25 0.50 +0.22 237.75 -4.42 Paris rape 466.00 -1.00 -0.21 456.25 2.14 Crude oil 92.69 -0.07 -0.08 91.82 0.95
* All contracts front month except second month for London wheat. Paris futures prices in euros per tonne, London wheat in pounds per tonne and CBOT in cents per bushel.
(Additional reporting by Valerie Parent; Editing by Anthony Barker)