(Recasts with updated prices, quotes, changes byline; changes dateline from previous PARIS/SYDNEY) CHICAGO, Feb 13 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat futures advanced on Wednesday for a fourth straight session as a pickup in export activity and firm cash markets spurred commodity fund buying, traders said. Corn was little changed and soybeans eased as traders waited to see if U.S.-China trade talks would show the two sides moving to end their spat. As of 1:02 p.m. CST (1902 GMT), Chicago Board of Trade March wheat was up 3-1/4 cents at $5.23-1/4 per bushel after reaching $5.24, the contract's highest since Feb. 7. CBOT March soybeans were down 1-1/4 cents at $9.16-1/4 per bushel while March corn was up 1/2 cent at $3.86-3/4 a bushel. Wheat firmed as commodity funds rolled short positions forward ahead of the March contract's delivery period, which begins later this month. "The funds are short, the basis is firm and the farmer is not selling. And we are getting a little (export) business," one Chicago-based trader said, noting recent U.S. wheat sales to Nigeria and Egypt, and international purchase tenders by Tunisia and Algeria. Trade in CBOT corn and soybean futures was subdued as brokers continued to monitor U.S. trade negotiations with China, the world's top soybean buyer. U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Wednesday trade talks with China were progressing well, a day after President Donald Trump cheered investors by saying he could let the March 1 deadline for a trade agreement with China "slide for a little while." Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer arrived in Beijing on Tuesday and are scheduled to hold talks on Thursday and Friday with Chinese Vice Premier Liu He, the top economic adviser to President Xi Jinping. Trump and Xi are expected to meet "sometime in March," said USDA Deputy Secretary Stephen Censky at a renewable fuels industry conference. "We're all waiting on trade news, and when is the Trump-Xi meeting," said Joe Vaclavik, president of Standard Grain. "Otherwise, it's very slow. And you can't read too much into a two-cent move either way," Vaclavik said. The potential for a trade deal with China has underpinned agricultural futures, given the likely impact on supply and demand for U.S. agricultural products. "Everything on that balance sheet could change if we get a deal with a large amount of agricultural purchases from China," said Ted Seifried, chief market strategist for Chicago-based Zaner Ag Hedge.
CBOT prices as of 12:44 p.m. CST (1844 GMT):
Net Pct Volume
Last change change
CBOT wheat WH9 523.00 3.00 0.6 58665 CBOT corn CH9 378.50 0.25 0.1 191536 CBOT soybeans SH9 916.50 -1.00 -0.1 56971 CBOT soymeal SMH9 309.70 0.50 0.2 34876 CBOT soyoil BOH9 30.06 -0.27 -0.9 78993
NOTE: CBOT March wheat, corn and soybeans shown in cents per bushel, March soymeal in dollars per short ton and March soyoil in cents per lb.
(Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Colin Packham in Sydney Editing by Edmund Blair and Tom Brown)