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GRAINS-Wheat, corn turn higher on short-covering; soy eases

(Updates prices, adds quotes; changes byline, headline, previously HAMBURG)

CHICAGO, Jan 9 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat and corn futures gained on Tuesday, after earlier falls, as investors covered short positions and prepared for government crop data due on Friday.

Wheat steadied after three sessions of declines and corn bounced from three-week lows. The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Friday is expected to show smaller U.S. winter wheat seedings, in the agency's first forecast for 2018.

Soybean futures were narrowly lower at the Chicago Board of Trade amid analyst expectations that the USDA would boost U.S. soy ending stocks and estimates for Brazilian soy output.

"Rather than rolling over, the wheat market is in more of a correction phase," EFG Group analyst Tom Fritz said.

CBOT March wheat was up 3-3/4 cents at $4.31-1/2 per bushel and CBOT March corn was up 2 cents at $3.49-1/4 as of 11:46 a.m. CST (1746 GMT).

CBOT March soybeans were down 3 cents at $9.63-1/4, a decline of 0.3 percent, pressured in part by a 1 percent drop in CBOT soymeal futures.

The state grain buying agency for top global wheat importer Egypt said it purchased 115,000 tonnes of Russian wheat in a tender. The agency initially received no offers, and then offers for wheat at prices higher than Egypt's last wheat tender in December.

Stronger wheat prices in Russia helped to support U.S. wheat futures, traders said.

"Premiums have been firm everywhere but Russian stuff ... are finally moving higher," a U.S. wheat trader said.

Warmer temperatures this week in the U.S. Plains had alleviated some concerns that dormant winter wheat plants could be damaged. That weighed on futures on Monday, but some dealers were on the sidelines ahead of the USDA reports, limiting participation in futures trading.

"Overall markets are awaiting the USDA forecasts on Friday, which could be a reminder of large global supplies while the impact of slow U.S. corn and soybean exports could also be seen in stocks," said Matt Ammermann, commodity risk manager at INTL FCStone.

(Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; editing by Louise Heavens and Susan Thomas)