GRAINS-Soybeans set for 3rd week of gains on strong demand hopes

* Up 2.7 pct this week, biggest since week ending July 21

* Expectations of strong Chinese demand driving soybean prices

* China makes record purchases for the month of August

(Adds details, quotes) SINGAPORE, Sept 8 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures firmed on Friday with the market set for a third week of gains on expectations of strong demand, led by China and concerns about potential crop damage from Hurricane Irma. With a rise of 0.7 percent on Friday, the most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade was up 2.7 percent for the week, making it the biggest weekly gain in nearly two months. Soybeans on Thursday climbed to $9.77-1/2 a bushel, the highest since Aug. 10. Wheat also ticked higher following last session's 2 percent decline and was little changed for the week after rising 0.8 percent the previous week. Corn also edged up on Friday, on track to end the week with marginal gains for a second week in a row. "Soybeans are likely to get even firmer as China's demand is surprising," said Ole Houe, an analyst with brokerage IKON Commodities in Sydney. "They are having solid pace of imports, it is not just beans, even feed grains." China, the world's largest soybean buyer, imported 8.45 million tonnes of soybeans in August, a record for the month though down 16.2 percent from 10.08 million tonnes in July, figures from the General Administration of Customs of China showed. Concerns that Hurricane Irma will cut production in southern U.S. states such as Georgia and North Carolina supported soybeans. Irma, which is expected to hit the U.S. mainland as early as this weekend, could also hamper exports, which would be another blow to the already light overseas interest in U.S. wheat stocks. Corn has been under pressure amid expectations of a bumper U.S. harvest. Commodity funds were net sellers of Chicago Board of Trade corn, soybean and wheat futures contracts on Thursday, traders said.

Grains prices at 0450 GMT

Contract Last Change Pct chg Two-day chg MA 30 RSI CBOT wheat 439.00 1.75 +0.40% -1.51% 456.17 47 CBOT corn 356.75 1.50 +0.42% -1.18% 366.97 48 CBOT soy 975.50 6.75 +0.70% +0.46% 954.66 65 CBOT rice 12.67 -$0.02 -0.20% -0.43% $12.62 53 WTI crude 49.21 $0.12 +0.24% +0.10% $48.29 64


Euro/dlr $1.206 $0.004 +0.36% +1.25% USD/AUD 0.8101 0.006 +0.68% +1.28%

Most active contracts Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel. Rice: USD per hundredweight RSI 14, exponential

(Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)