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GRAINS-Soy up for third day on strong cash meal, big meal exports

Sam Nelson
Tuesday, 17 Dec 2013 | 2:49 PM ET

* Soymeal market leading soybeans higher

* NOPA crush report supportive for soybeans

* Short-covering lifts corn and wheat

* Market awaiting FOMC meeting results

(Updates to include close of U.S. trading session)

CHICAGO, Dec 17 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures rose 0.5 percent on Tuesday, their third straight session of gains, due to higher soymeal, active soymeal exports and stronger cash soymeal markets.

The January soymeal contract rose to a contract high of $449.30 per ton in reaction to the active exports and to tight soymeal stocks. It closed up $9 at $448 per ton.

Soybeans also were supported by the strong U.S. soybean crush as seen in Monday's National Oilseeds Processors Association (NOPA) monthly crush report.

Corn rose for the second day in a row on short-covering despite China's recent rejections of U.S. corn cargoes that contained a non-approved GMO variety.

Wheat eased in choppy trading as the market continued to hover at the lowest price levels in 1-1/2 years.

Chicago Board of Trade January soybean futures closed 8-3/4 cents higher at $13.46-1/2 per bushel, corn for March delivery was up 3-1/2 at $4.26-3/4 per bushel, and March wheat was down 2 at $6.19-3/4 per bushel.

Positioning underpinned all three markets, but there was reluctance to place fresh buy orders in wheat, corn or soybeans ahead of the results of a Dec. 17-18 meeting of Federal Reserve policymakers.

"Everybody's waiting on the FOMC meeting tomorrow and that's keeping a lid on activity. The market is a little nervous before the meeting," said Sterling Smith, futures specialist for Citigroup.

There is concern the Federal Open Market Committee may begin to wind down its market-friendly, bond-buying economic stimulus program.

That stimulus has been a major contributor to gains in the equities markets this year and has affected market sentiment in commodities.

Domestic and export demand for soybeans and soymeal has been brisk, a fact demonstrated in Monday's NOPA report.

"The NOPA numbers were healthy, but traders are nervous because there could be cancellation of Chinese orders for U.S. beans as they gain confidence in the South American crop," Smith said.

NOPA on Monday said U.S. members crushed 160.1 million bushels of soybeans in November, up from 157.1 million in October and the most for any month since January 2010.

Gains in soybeans have been slowed by prospects for a bumper South American soybean harvest early next year and prospects for China to shift its buying of soy away from the United States to South America.

Satisfactory crop weather continues in South America with the few dry areas likely to receive showers soon, said Don Keeney, meteorologist for MD Weather Services.

"Temperatures reached the low 100s (degrees Fahrenheit) in southwest Argentina this week but there is no major damage expected," he said.

Keeney said the dry areas in Argentina were in small crop-growing regions and that corn and soybeans are not mature enough at this time to be harmed by heat or drought.

Overall satisfactory crop weather continues in Brazil, Keeney said.

(Editing by Bob Burgdorfer)