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GRAINS-Corn ends higher on lower-than-expected U.S. crop ratings

* USDA's corn, wheat ratings fall below trade estimates

* Nearby soy ends higher, bouncing from one-year low

* Egypt buys Russian, Romanian wheat, bypassing U.S. offers

(Updates with closing prices) CHICAGO, May 31 (Reuters) - U.S. corn futures rose about 1.4 percent on Wednesday after the U.S. Department of Agriculture's initial condition ratings for the crop fell below trade expectations. Nearby soybeans also closed firm while wheat turned lower toward the close, after spending most of the session higher. Chicago Board of Trade July corn settled up 5 cents at $3.72 per bushel after reaching $3.76-1/2, its highest since May 22. CBOT July soybeans ended up 3-1/4 cents at $9.16 a bushel and July wheat finished down 1/4 cent at $4.29-1/4 a bushel. Corn climbed after the USDA late Tuesday, in its first weekly corn condition ratings for 2017, rated 65 percent of the crop as good to excellent. The figure fell below an average of analyst expectations for 68 percent and was down from 72 percent a year ago. It raised concerns that the crop might not be able to meet the government's initial yield projection of 170.7 bushels per acre, based on historical trends. Ratings were lowest in the eastern half of the Midwest, where excessive rains swamped fields this spring. "Historically we have a limited chance to make trend-line yields when our good-to-excellent ratings are below 70 percent at this time of year. So the market is really forced to add some premium into prices," said Brian Hoops, analyst with Midwest Marketing Solutions. Soybeans ended mixed, with nearbys up on bargain-buying after the July dipped to $9.09-1/2, the lowest price for a most-active contract since early April 2016. Strength in corn lent support, along with worries about port strikes that could limit the flow of soy from Argentina, the world's top soymeal exporter. But soybeans traded lower at times, pressed by a record-large Brazilian harvest, poor crush margins in top buyer China and an expected jump in U.S. soybean seedings. CBOT wheat faded late in the day after drawing early support from disappointing crop ratings. The USDA rated 50 percent of the U.S. winter wheat crop in good to excellent condition, down from 52 percent the previous week. Spring wheat futures on the Minneapolis Grain Exchange advanced after the USDA rated 62 percent of the U.S. spring wheat crop as good to excellent, well below an average of trade expectations for 71 percent. The figures underscored worries about dry weather in the northern U.S. Plains production region. Egypt's state grain buyer GASC bought 180,000 tonnes of wheat in an international purchase tender, including 120,000 tonnes of Russian and 60,000 tonnes of Romanian origin. GASC passed on offers of U.S. hard red winter wheat.

CBOT settlement prices:

Net Pct Volume

Last change change

CBOT wheat WN7 429.25 -0.25 -0.1 63368 CBOT corn CN7 372.00 5.00 1.4 243760 CBOT soybeans SN7 916.00 3.25 0.4 112368 CBOT soymeal SMN7 298.10 0.50 0.2 51313 CBOT soyoil BON7 31.34 -0.08 -0.3 56588

NOTE: CBOT wheat, corn and soybeans shown in cents per bushel, soymeal in dollars per short ton and soyoil in cents per lb.

(Additional reporting by Colin Packham in Sydney and Gus Trompiz in Paris; Editing by Grant McCool and James Dalgleish)