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GRAINS-Wheat firms, set to finish the week down more than 2 pct

SYDNEY, March 23 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures edged higher on Friday, though the grain was poised to record its third consecutive weekly loss as rains across a key producing region eased fears of widespread crop losses.

FUNDAMENTALS

* The most active wheat futures on the Chicago Board Of Trade were down more than 2 percent for the week, extending three-week losses to 8.5 percent.

* The most active soybean futures was 1.5 percent lower for the week, after closing up 1 percent the previous week.

* The most active corn futures dropped more than 1.5 percent for the week.

* Wheat has been under sustained pressure this week after rains fell across the U.S. Plains, aiding crops that have suffered from sustained dry weather.

* The International Grains Council (IGC) forecast global grain stocks will fall in 2018/19, with the bulk of the decline seen in corn.

* The IGC said total grain stocks would fall by 46 million tonnes to 560 million tonnes, including a 42 million-tonne drawdown in corn to 265 million tonnes. Wheat inventories were seen declining by 3 million tonnes to 253 million tonnes.

* Declining Argentina crop estimates lent support to prices. The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange cut its estimate of the country's soybean crop to 39.5 million tonnes, from 42 million previously.

* Private analytics firm Informa Economics raised its forecast of U.S. 2018 soybean plantings to 91.5 million acres, a record high if achieved, and lowered its corn forecast to 88.9 million acres, trade sources said.

* U.S. farmers planted 90.1 million acres of soybeans and 90.2 million acres of corn in 2017.

MARKET NEWS

* The yen hit a 16-month high against the dollar on Friday as concerns over rising global trade tensions triggered a bout of investor risk aversion.

* Oil prices rose on Friday, pushed up by Saudi statements that OPEC and Russia-led production curbs that were introduced in 2017 will need to be extended into 2019 in order to tighten the market.

* S&P 500 e-mini futures EScv1 fell 0.33 percent late on Thursday after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that he was replacing his national security advisor.

Grains prices at 0132 GMT

Contract Last Change Pct chg Two-day chg MA 30 RSI CBOT wheat 457.75 2.00 +0.44% +0.94% 477.57 35 CBOT corn 376.75 0.75 +0.20% +0.47% 380.33 42 CBOT soy 1033.50 3.75 +0.36% +0.36% 1042.26 48 CBOT rice 12.31 -$0.02 -0.16% -0.08% $12.34 51 WTI crude 65.22 $0.92 +1.43% +0.08% $61.91 70

Currencies

Euro/dlr $1.233 $0.003 +0.21% -0.08% USD/AUD 0.7701 0.001 +0.13% -0.82%

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

(Reporting by Colin Packham Editing by Kenneth Maxwell)