GRAINS-U.S. soy prices ease on China data, firmer dollar
* Slower growth in China may dampen soybean demand
* U.S. grains boosted by stronger export outlook
* Weaker euro underpins European wheat prices
(Adds quotes, updates prices)
LONDON, March 1 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures were lower on Friday, weighed by weaker-than-expected economic data from key importer China, while wheat and corn also eased as a stronger dollar also exerted downward pressure on prices.
CBOT May soybeans was off 1.0 percent at $14.37-1/2 a bushel at 1253 GMT. The contract is on track for a small weekly loss of around 0.4 percent.
Growth in Chinese factories cooled in February to a five-month low after domestic and foreign demand slackened, an official government survey showed on Friday, missing market forecasts.
"China is the world's largest soybean consumer, so further signs of an economic slowdown are going to dampen the demand for the commodity," said Ker Chung Yang, senior investment analyst at Phillip Futures in Singapore.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said weekly export sales of soybeans were 1.171 million tonnes, including 689,000 tonnes of old-crop supplies. Analysts were expecting soybean export sales in a range from 750,000 to 1 million tonnes.
China accounted for 70 percent of the weekly sales.
Jonathan Lane, trading manager at UK merchant Gleadell, said the soybean market remained rangebound after running into stiff resistance around recent highs late last week.
"Brazilian ports continue to struggle to move beans in sufficient volumes, and renewed Chinese buying interest has helped support prices but the harvest continues and weather remains good," he said in a market note.
CBOT May corn was off 0.25 percent at $7.01-3/4 a bushel but remains on track for a weekly gain of 2.6 percent.
The U.S. grains complex has been buoyed by demand for exports and lengthy vessel loading delays in Brazil, which has prompted China to cancel soy cargoes ordered from Brazil and buy from the United States instead.
"The focus in the market...has turned back to old crop tightness and the stronger outlook for grain exports from the United States," Rabobank analyst Nick Higgins said.
U.S. wheat prices were slightly lower with CBOT March off 0.4 percent at $7.05 a bushel. The contract is on track for a weekly loss of about 1.4 percent,
Dealers said a stronger dollar was keeping U.S. markets on the defensive, while a weaker euro underpinned European prices.
Benchmark May milling wheat on the Paris futures market was unchanged at 239.25 euros a tonne.
"The market is pausing, torn between a low euro and wider macroeconomic economic concern," one trader said.
European shares fell sharply and the euro slipped towards a two-month low on Friday, as weak economic data from Italy, France and Britain added to concerns about possible U.S. spending cuts and political stalemate in Rome.
(Additional reporting by Lewa Pardomuan in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; Editing by Alison Birrane)