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GRAINS-Wheat firms, gains curbed as rains ease drought-damage fears

SYDNEY, March 28 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures edged higher for the first time in three sessions on Wednesday, though gains were capped as rains brought relief to the parched U.S. Plains, easing fears about drought damage and widespread losses.

FUNDAMENTALS

* The most active wheat futures on the Chicago Board Of Trade were up 0.4 percent at $4.50-3/4 a bushel by 0056 GMT, having closed down 1.2 percent on Tuesday.

* The most active soybean futures climbed 0.2 percent to $10.21 a bushel, having closed down 0.6 percent on Tuesday.

* The most active corn futures rose 0.2 percent to $3.74-3/2 a bushel, having closed unchanged in the previous session.

* Showers crossing the Plains on Tuesday should help recharge soil moisture in some areas.

* The USDA on Monday rated 13 percent of winter wheat in Kansas, the top producer, in good-to-excellent condition, up from 11 percent last week. However, ratings are down significantly from a year ago, when 38 percent of the state's wheat was rated good to excellent.

* Analysts expect the U.S. Department of Agriculture to project U.S. soybean plantings for 2018 at a record-high of 91.1 million acres and corn plantings at 89.4 million acres, down from 90.2 million in 2017.

* Analysts also expect the USDA to report record-high March 1 corn and soybean stocks, reflecting several years of bumper harvests.

MARKET NEWS

* The dollar rose against a basket of major currencies on Tuesday, rebounding from a five-week low hit earlier in the session, as trade tensions receded and the greenback found support from month-end flows as global asset and fund managers rebalanced their portfolios.

* Oil prices settled slightly lower on Tuesday, only to fall in post-settlement electronic trading as stocks slumped and industry group data showed a surprising increase in crude inventories.

* Wall Street closed sharply lower Tuesday, with each of the major U.S. indexes suffering their fourth decline in five sessions, fuelled by a selloff in the tech sector.

Grains prices at 0037 GMT

Contract Last Change Pct chg Two-day chg MA 30 RSI CBOT wheat 450.25 1.25 +0.28% -0.88% 475.65 33 CBOT corn 374.50 0.50 +0.13% +0.13% 380.48 37 CBOT soy 1021.00 1.50 +0.15% -0.44% 1043.28 39 CBOT rice 12.45 $0.00 +0.00% +0.69% $12.34 65 WTI crude 64.87 -$0.38 -0.58% -1.04% $62.53 62

Currencies

Euro/dlr $1.241 $0.001 +0.10% -0.23% USD/AUD 0.7694 0.002 +0.22% -0.67%

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

(Reporting by Colin Packham, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)