GRAINS-Soybeans ease after rally as market assesses U.S. harvest

* Soybeans consolidate after highest since July 31 on Friday

* Drier weather could see U.S. harvest accelerate

* USDA yield cut, Brazil dryness, Chinese demand supportive

* Market eyes crop progress, export inspection, soy crush data

(Updates with European trading, changes byline/dateline) PARIS/SINGAPORE, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures eased back below the $10 threshold on Monday, consolidating after a 2-1/2 month high in the previous session as investors weighed up U.S. harvest and export prospects. An unexpected cut to the U.S. government's yield forecast for this year's soybean crop sparked a rally at the end of last week. But with dry, warm weather forecast in the Midwest crop belt, harvesting could accelerate after a slow start and put the focus back on supply pressure. Investors were awaiting an update on soybean and corn harvesting in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's (USDA) weekly crop progress report due after the market close on Monday. Strong weekly export sales figures published on Friday also lent support to soybeans and corn prices before the weekend, and other data publications on Monday will also give clues about demand. The USDA will issue weekly export inspection figures while the National Oilseed Processors Association (NOPA) will report the volume of soybeans crushed The Chicago Board Of Trade (CBOT) most-active soybean contract was down 0.5 percent at $9.95 a bushel by 1039 GMT, having hit its highest since July 31 on Friday at $10.03-1/4 a bushel. Corn eased 0.4 percent to $3.51-1/2 a bushel, while wheat inched up 0.1 percent to $4.39-3/4 a bushel, holding onto a 2 percent gain from Friday. "The U.S. market has been a key driver of soybean prices as the USDA reduced its yield forecast," said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank. "But it has not changed the fundamental picture significantly." In a monthly report on Thursday, the USDA lowered its U.S. soybean yield estimate and cut its forecast for 2017/18 soybeans ending stocks. It then reported on Friday export sales of U.S. soybeans in the latest week of more than 1.7 million tonnes and corn sales at about 1.6 million tonnes, topping a range of trade expectations. "China has been a big buyer of soybeans. Now the question is, are they going to be buying at the same quantities at higher prices?," Ziebell said. Persisting dryness in top soybean exporter Brazil as planting gets under way was also underpinning soybean prices. "Continued dry weather in central Brazil (is) raising concerns for delayed soybean plantings and delayed second-crop corn plantings," Thomson Reuters Agriculture Research analysts said in a daily note. Wheat prices rebounded on Friday in what traders called a short-covering move following a 1-1/2 month low a day earlier. The wheat market has been weighed down by large global supplies, led by a record Russian harvest that has intensified export competition.

Prices at 1039 GMT

Last Change Pct End Ytd Pct Move 2016 Move CBOT wheat 439.75 0.25 0.06 408.00 7.78 CBOT corn 351.50 -1.25 -0.35 352.00 -0.14 CBOT soy 995.00 -5.25 -0.52 1004.00 -0.90 Paris wheat Dec 162.75 0.75 0.46 175.00 -7.00 Paris maize Nov 149.25 -0.75 -0.50 170.00 -12.21 Paris rape Nov 366.25 -1.25 -0.34 383.25 -4.44 WTI crude oil 52.08 0.63 1.22 53.72 -3.05 Euro/dlr 1.18 0.00 -0.18

Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel, Paris futures in euros per tonne

(Reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Gus Trompiz in Paris; Editing by Tom Hogue and David Evans)