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GRAINS-Wheat sags on sluggish export demand; U.S. weather eyed

(New throughout; updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline, changes dateline from previous PARIS/SYDNEY) CHICAGO, April 12 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures fell more than 1 percent on Thursday on reminders of ample world supplies and strong competition for export business, along with some forecasts for much-needed rains next week in the U.S. Plains, analysts said. Soybean futures rose on export demand for U.S. supplies, and corn ended modestly higher. Chicago Board of Trade May wheat settled down 6-1/4 cents at $4.81 per bushel while K.C. May hard red winter wheat was down 9-1/4 cents at $5.07-1/2. CBOT May soybeans ended up 13 cents at $10.60-3/4 a bushel and May corn rose 1-3/4 cents at $3.88-3/4 a bushel. Wheat fell as traders focused on plentiful global stockpiles and sluggish demand for U.S. supplies. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported export sales of U.S. wheat in the latest week at 188,700 tonnes (old and new crop years combined), below trade expectations. The USDA on Tuesday raised its forecast of world wheat stocks at the end of the 2017/18 marketing year to 271.2 million tonnes, an all-time high. Additional pressure stemmed from forecasting models showing increased chances of rain late next week in the drought-hit southern Plains winter wheat belt. "The models definitely shifted wetter today versus where they have been the last couple days. But we are still very low confidence on that," said Joel Widenor, meteorologist with the Commodity Weather Group. CBOT soybeans climbed on strong weekly U.S. export sales along with news this week that Argentina, typically the No. 3 soybean producer, was buying U.S. and Brazilian soybeans after drought slashed Argentina's crop. Argentina bought 120,000 tonnes of soybeans from Brazil last week, an analyst at trading and consultancy firm Labhoro told Reuters. The Rosario grains exchange on Wednesday cut its estimate of the country's soy crop to 37 million tonnes, from 40 million previously. The USDA reported export sales of U.S. soybeans in the week to April 5 at 2,464,500 tonnes (old and new crop years combined), topping a range of trade expectations. Sales of old-crop soybeans topped 1.5 million tonnes, the most in five weeks. Traders were monitoring a blizzard expected in South Dakota and Nebraska on Friday that could delay U.S. plantings of corn and spring wheat, potentially prompting farmers to switch more acres to soybeans.

CBOT settlement prices:

Net Pct Volume

Last change change

CBOT wheat WK8 481.00 -6.25 -1.3 76310 CBOT corn CK8 388.75 1.75 0.4 180049 CBOT soybeans SK8 1060.75 13.00 1.3 168538 CBOT soymeal SMK8 383.40 3.20 0.8 44518 CBOT soyoil BOK8 31.63 0.10 0.3 50165

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 Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu and David Goodman)