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GRAINS-U.S. soybeans firm on renewed optimism about China talks

Gus Trompiz and Naveen Thukral

* Investors warm to report of progress in U.S.-China talks

* Soybean sentiment tempered by lack of new Chinese buying

* Wheat, corn also firm, but U.S. shutdown clouds outlook

(Updates with European trading, changes byline/dateline) PARIS/SINGAPORE, Jan 18 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures ticked higher on Friday as a press report pointing to progress in trade negotiations between Washington and China boosted equity and commodity markets. Chicago corn and wheat were also up slightly as the renewed optimism about a possible resolution to a U.S.-China tariff war raised hopes of a revival in U.S. grain exports to China. The rise in grains was modest, however, as traders remained cautious in the absence of confirmed Chinese purchases of soybeans and other U.S. crops, with a lack of official data during a U.S. government shutdown adding to uncertainty. The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade was up 0.5 percent at $9.12-1/4 a bushel by 1235 GMT, reversing a small fall during Asian trading hours. The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin discussed lifting some or all tariffs imposed on Chinese imports and suggested offering a tariff rollback during trade discussions scheduled for Jan. 30. "Grain markets continue the back and forth of deal or no deal in the trade dispute between the U.S. and China," brokerage Allendale said in a note. China booked several million tonnes of U.S. soybeans in December as part of a negotiating truce with Washington. But further purchases have yet to materialize and hopes of similar deals in corn and wheat have also yet to be confirmed. "There is nothing concrete on Chinese buying, and in that environment of uncertainty it is hard to see an increase in U.S. bean prices," said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist, National Australia Bank. Soybean and corn markets were also weighing harvest prospects in South America. Weather forecasts called for showers in some parched regions of Brazil and drier conditions in soggy growing belts in Argentina in the coming days, tempering concerns about crop damage. Numerous crop watchers have scaled back their corn and soybean harvest forecasts for Argentina and Brazil due to recent adverse weather. The Buenos Aires Grains exchange cut its forecast for Argentine soybean plantings to 17.7 million hectares, from 17.9 million hectares previously, due to excessive rain. CBOT corn was up 0.2 percent at $3.80-3/4 a bushel, while wheat added 0.4 percent to $5.19-3/4 a bushel. Wheat markets have been assessing prospects for an upturn in demand for U.S. and west European supplies as top exporter Russia sees its surplus dwindle. Russia's agriculture ministry said on Wednesday it was not discussing imposing any limits on grain exports abroad, RIA news agency reported. But Agriculture Minister Dmitry Patrushev was quoted by Interfax on Friday as saying Russia aims to regulate domestic grain prices.

Prices at 1235 GMT

Last Change Pct End Ytd PctMove 2018 MoveCBOT wheat 519.75 2.00 0.39 503.25 3.28CBOT corn 380.75 0.75 0.20 375.00 1.53CBOT soy 912.25 4.50 0.50 895.00 1.93Paris wheat Mar 204.50 0.50 0.25 203.25 0.62Paris maize Mar 181.00 0.50 0.28 180.25 0.42Paris rape Feb 368.75 0.25 0.07 364.50 1.17WTI crude oil 52.63 0.56 1.08 45.41 15.90Euro/dlr 1.14 0.00 0.10 1.1469 -0.55

Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel, Paris futures in euros per tonne

(Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)