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GRAINS-Wheat prices bounce after steep losses; U.S. weather eyed

(Updates with closing prices) CHICAGO, March 20 (Reuters) - Chicago Board of Trade wheat futures rose on Tuesday in a light recovery bounce after falling to a seven-week low, but trade was cautious after weekend rains on the parched U.S. Plains offered respite for the winter wheat crop. Soybeans firmed on bargain-buying after Monday's losses while corn edged lower after a choppy trade. CBOT May wheat settled up 2-1/4 cents at $4.53 a bushel after dipping to $4.50, its lowest since Jan. 26. K.C. May hard red winter wheat ended down 1/4 cent at $4.70. CBOT May soybeans finished up 5-3/4 cents at $10.28-1/4 a bushel and May corn ended down 1/2 cent at $3.74-1/2 a bushel. CBOT wheat took a breather after plunging 3.6 percent on Monday. "In absence of that aggressive selling that we were seeing yesterday, we are starting to drift back up a bit," said Ted Seifried, analyst with Zaner Ag Hedge. K.C. wheat futures ended modestly lower after a seesaw session. Some forecast models called for another round of moisture in the drought-hit southern Plains, where the hard red winter wheat crop is exiting dormancy and resuming spring growth. "The midday maps were a little wetter, although just east of the hard red winter wheat belt. Just the fact that there is rain out there is keeping them (buyers) at bay," said Jim Gerlach, president of A/C Trading. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) late on Monday rated 11 percent of the winter wheat top producer Kansas in good-to-excellent condition, down from 12 percent a week earlier. Wheat ratings also declined in Texas. However, those ratings likely did not reflect the impact of Monday's precipitation. CBOT soybean futures were supported by technical buying and short-covering a day after Monday's 2.6 percent slide in the May contract. Expectations of more rain in Argentina on drought-damaged soybean crops pressured markets on Monday, along with funds paring big net long positions in soy and corn. Traders remained wary of potential harm to U.S. farm exports if the Trump administration goes ahead with plans for new tariffs on up to $60 billion worth of Chinese technology and consumer goods annually. Soybeans are the biggest U.S. agricultural export, followed U.S. agricultural exports could be at risk in any retaliation over tariffs implemented by the White House, U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue said on Monday.

"Trump talking about hitting China with annual tariffs has the market continuing to be worried about a trade war," Seifried said.

CBOT settlement prices:

Net Pct Volume Last change change CBOT wheat WK8 453.00 2.25 0.5 88812 CBOT corn CK8 374.50 -0.50 -0.1 193215 CBOT soybeans SK8 1028.25 5.75 0.6 71362 CBOT soymeal SMK8 361.70 3.10 0.9 45837 CBOT soyoil BOK8 31.74 -0.32 -1.0 51574

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

(Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Sandra Maler)