GRAINS-Soy rebounds after export U.S. sales announced
* USDA announces sales of U.S. soybeans
* Argentine weather an issue
* Holiday trading lull
(Updates to include U.S. trading session, adds weather details; changes dateline, pvs PARIS/SYDNEY)
CHICAGO, Dec 24 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures inched upward on Tuesday in quiet pre-Christmas dealings with a sale of U.S. soy lending some modest support while weather in South America remained a mixed bag for the soy complex.
Corn was flat to firm with the big buildup in global corn stocks hampering attempts to rally prices while wheat fell to a fresh 19-month low on tepid exports and plentiful wheat supplies.
At 9:58 a.m. CST (1558 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade January soybeans were up 3-1/4 cents per bushel at $13.31-3/4 per bushel, March corn was up 1/4 cent at $4.34-1/2 and March wheat was down 1-1/2 at $6.08.
Trade volume was light ahead of the Wednesday Christmas holiday. Markets will close early at 12:00 p.m. CST (1800 GMT) on Tuesday and remain closed on Wednesday.
Much of Tuesday's focus was on the soybean complex and the modest strength in the spot January soybean and soymeal futures contracts.
"If you want to blame it on something, the exports would be okay. We got down near the bottom of the range and now it's going back up," said Art Liming, a futures specialist for Citigroup.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday said private exporters sold 185,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to an unknown destination and sold 114,000 tonnes to Egypt. Also on Monday, USDA announced a sale of U.S. soybeans to an unknown buyer.
Spot January soybeans have been in a narrow trading range since late November with a low of near $13.10 and a high of just above $13.50.
"With the tight U.S. stocks, I don't see January going below $13 but with the big South American crop coming on, a move above $13.50 isn't likely either," Liming said.
"Weather in South America is not a big problem, Brazil is OK while there is some concern in Argentina," he said.
Soybean and corn futures had found some price support since the end of last week from hot and dry weather in Argentina and pockets of dryness in Brazil, which raised doubts about expectations of bumper harvests.
"The weather situation is a concern for corn above all because it goes through pollination earlier," a European trader said of South American conditions. "But U.S. corn will struggle to rally unless this weather risk is confirmed."
Crop-friendly showers were expected this week into early next week in most of Argentina's corn and soybean growing region, which will help ease dry weather stress on crops, said Drew Lerner, a meteorologist for World Weather Inc.
"All areas of Argentina should see some rain with amounts ranging from 0.50 inch to 1.50 inches (1.3-3.8 cm)," he said.
The key crop regions will receive the showers Friday through Tuesday and the rainfall will be followed by a return to hot weather next week, Lerner said. "The second half of next week will be dry and warmer again so the showers this week will bring only temporary relief," he said.
Overall satisfactory crop weather continues in Brazil with some dry areas in southern Brazil expected to receive showers soon, Lerner said.
(Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney)