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GRAINS-Soybeans rise on strong demand, wheat eases after rally

SINGAPORE, Sept 18 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures rose on Monday, gaining ground for three out of four sessions on expectations of strong demand from China although expanding harvest in the United States kept a lid on the market. Wheat ticked lower after climbing 1.4 percent on Friday on concerns over lower production in Australia, the fourth largest exporter.

FUNDAMENTALS

* Export demand is leading support to soybeans. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said private exporters sold 132,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to China, the latest in a string of U.S. soybean sales announced last week.

* Cash values for soybeans continued to firm at the U.S. Gulf, supported by exporters seeking beans for September loadings.

* In addition, Argentina's 2017/18 soybean harvest is expected to fall by as much as 7 percent to 52 million tonnes compared with the 2016/17 crop year, local agriculture analysts said on Friday, citing low profit margins and excess water caused by heavy rains.

* But the gain in soybean prices was capped by expectations of expanding harvest progress in the U.S. Midwest in the coming days. Drier weather in the eastern Midwest and Delta will favor corn and soybean drydown and early harvesting, the MDA Weather Services said in a note to clients.

* For wheat, the Australian government last week cut its estimate of the country's 2017/18 harvest to 21.64 million tonnes, an eight-year low.

* Looking at the next year, private analytics firm Informa Economics expects U.S. farmers in 2018 to plant more acres to corn and wheat and fewer to soybeans, according to an Informa client note.

* The firm projected U.S. 2018 corn plantings at 91.880 million acres, up from its estimate of 90.660 million seeded in 2017, according to the note dated Thursday and seen by Reuters on Friday.

MARKET NEWS

* Asian shares crept ahead and the dollar firmed on Monday in a cautious start to a week in which the U.S. Federal Reserve is likely to wrestle with its bloated balance sheet as part of a long reversal of super-cheap money worldwide.

DATA/EVENT AHEAD (GMT)

0130 China House prices Aug 0900 Euro zone Inflation final Aug 1400 U.S. NAHB housing market index Sep

Grains prices at 0109 GMT

Contract Last Change Pct chg Two-day chg MA 30 RSI CBOT wheat 448.75 -0.25 -0.06% +1.30% 446.52 74 CBOT corn 354.75 0.00 +0.00% +0.14% 361.54 66 CBOT soy 972.00 3.25 +0.34% -0.41% 950.91 67 CBOT rice 12.83 $0.03 +0.20% +0.16% $12.66 69 WTI crude 49.83 -$0.06 -0.12% -0.12% $48.16 66

Currencies

Euro/dlr $1.195 $0.000 +0.03% +0.23% USD/AUD 0.8004 0.000 +0.04% -0.01%

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

(Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Michael Perry)