GRAINS-Soybeans higher on slow U.S. harvest pace, wheat sags

* USDA pegs soy, corn harvest behind trade expectations

* Export sales of soybeans and corn lend support

* Wheat falls on weak export demand, improved crop ratings

(New throughout, updates prices, adds quotes, changes byline, changes dateline from previous HAMBURG) CHICAGO, Nov 14 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures rose on Wednesday on a slower-than-expected harvest pace and news of fresh export demand, although plentiful global supplies kept a lid on the market, analysts said. Wheat futures fell on sluggish export demand while corn futures were nearly unchanged. As of 11:48 a.m. CST (1748 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade January soybean futures were up 3-3/4 cents at $8.82 per bushel. CBOT December wheat was down 5-1/2 cents at $5.02-1/4 a bushel and December corn was flat at $3.66-1/2 a bushel. Soybeans firmed as the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) said private exporters sold 148,000 tonnes of U.S. soybeans to unknown destinations, the second sale in as many days.

Late Tuesday, the USDA said the U.S. soybean harvest was 88 percent complete, behind the average trade estimate of 91 percent and the five-year average of 93 percent. Additional support stemmed from firming cash values in the Midwest interior as harvest winds down and farmers put crops into storage. Some are hoping for a rally if U.S. trade talks with top global soybean buyer China go well later this month. President Donald Trump is due to meet with China President Xi Jinping in Buenos Aires, Argentina, at the end of November on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit. "There are very few farmers who want to sell and miss out on what could be a $1 rally in the market," said Brian Hoops, president of U.S. broker Midwest Market Solutions. CBOT corn futures found underlying support from a slow U.S. harvest pace and a USDA announcement that exporters sold 212,000 tonnes of the grain to Mexico. But spillover pressure from a slide in CBOT wheat futures capped the strength in corn. Wheat futures fell after a surprise improvement in the USDA's winter wheat condition ratings. The USDA late Tuesday rated 54 percent of the crop in good to excellent condition, up from 51 percent the previous week. Analysts on average had expected no change. The winter wheat crop was 89 percent planted, lagging the five-year average of 94 percent. Analysts questioned whether much of the last 10 percent would be seeded, given the late date and wintry U.S. weather this week. But traders are fixated on slow U.S. wheat exports, Hoops said, noting the K.C. December hard red winter wheat futures contract dipped to $4.82 a bushel, its lowest since December 2017. "That tells us our demand is not there," Hoops said.

CBOT prices as of 11:35 CST (1735 GMT):

Net Pct Volume

Last change change

CBOT wheat WZ8 502.25 -5.50 -1.1 54772 CBOT corn CZ8 366.25 -0.25 -0.1 74193 CBOT soybeans SF9 882.00 3.75 0.4 49509 CBOT soymeal SMZ8 304.40 0.50 0.2 19245 CBOT soyoil BOZ8 27.53 -0.02 -0.1 41661

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

(Additional reporting by Michael Hogan in Hamburg and Colin Packham in Sydney; Editing by David Evans and Chris Reese)