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GRAINS-Wheat steady as market awaits Egypt tender

Gus Trompiz and Naveen Thukral

* CBOT wheat steady after plunge to near 4-month low

* Egypt tender eyed as traders fret over lagging exports

* Soybeans inch down, corn firm after Tuesday lows

* U.S.-China trade talks watched for progress

(Updates with European trading, changes byline/dateline) PARIS, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat hovered on Wednesday close to its lowest since October as traders awaited the outcome of a tender by top importer Egypt to see if a price slide since last week would stir fresh demand. Corn was higher, steadying after dropping to its lowest since November on Tuesday, while soybean futures dipped but held above a one-month low struck a day earlier. The consolidation trend was encouraged by technical support and hopes that the latest round of U.S.-Chinese trade negotiations that started on Tuesday will show progress, including new Chinese purchases of U.S. crops. The most-active Chicago Board of Trade wheat contract was up a quarter of a cent at $4.90 a bushel by 1221 GMT, but still near Tuesday's low of $4.88-1/2 - a level not reached since Oct. 26. CBOT soybeans slipped 0.2 percent to $8.98-3/4 a bushel, while corn gained 0.9 percent to $3.73 a bushel. Analysts have been pointing to scope for an upturn in U.S. wheat exports as supply dwindles in top supplier Russia. But weekly U.S. export inspection figures on Tuesday again showed a modest haul for wheat, adding pressure on prices after investment fund selling late last week.

"Export inspections should be bouncing by now if the U.S. is going to make inroads into its inventories," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Traders were bracing for the results of a tender being held on Wednesday by Egypt's General Authority for Supply Commodities, seeking an unspecified amount of wheat for shipment from April 5-15. The tender is seen as important both for U.S. and EU supplies, after prices on Paris-based Euronext also dropped to multi-month lows this week amid worries that export demand is lagging. "This GASC (tender) feels important for French exporters to break the cycle of fear, discounting and Matif (Euronext) falling," a European trader said. Grain markets are also watching developments in the U.S.-Chinese trade discussions. U.S. President Donald Trump said on Tuesday that trade talks with China were going well and suggested he was open to pushing off the deadline to complete negotiations, saying March 1 was not a "magical" date. A trade settlement could help revive U.S. soybean shipments to China, the world's biggest soybean importer, while also heralding large purchases of U.S. cereals.

Prices at 1221 GMT

Last Change Pct End Ytd PctMove 2018 MoveCBOT wheat 490.00 0.25 0.05 503.25 -2.63CBOT corn 373.00 3.25 0.88 375.00 -0.53CBOT soy 898.75 -2.00 -0.22 895.00 0.42Paris wheat May 194.00 -1.00 -0.51 205.00 -5.37Paris maize Mar 174.00 0.50 0.29 180.25 -3.47Paris rape Feb 361.75 -1.50 -0.41 365.25 -0.96WTI crude oil 55.66 -0.43 -0.77 45.41 22.57Euro/dlr 1.13 0.00 -0.04 1.1469 -1.16

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 Shreejay Sinha and Susan Fenton)