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GRAINS-Soybeans on pace for 4th weekly drop on weak demand, big supplies

Karl Plume

* Slowing soybean demand in China, plentiful supplies weigh

* Corn consolidating after rising this week on planting woes

* Wheat turns down after two days of strong gains (Rewrites throughout with U.S. market open, adds quote, updates prices; changes byline, dateline, previous SINGAPORE/PARIS)

CHICAGO, May 3 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures steadied on Friday after five sessions of declines as technical buying and short-covering ahead of the weekend underpinned the market.

Still, soybeans are on track for a fourth straight weekly loss as rain-delayed U.S. corn planting fueled expectations for a shift to more soybean acres despite sluggish export demand from top importer China.

Corn eased for the first time in six sessions but was on pace for its first weekly gain in four weeks, lifted by concerns about late planting and possible yield declines due to excessive rains and flooding this spring.

Wheat eased after two sessions of strong gains as traders pocketed profits from a run to two week highs.

Much of the market's focus remained on Midwest weather, with corn planting already behind the normal pace. Traders are also keen to hear any developments from U.S.-China trade talks, which are due to shift from Beijing to Washington next week.

"It's just kind of a choppy day. The beans were incredibly oversold, making new contract lows yesterday. We had the (export) sale to Mexico so they were supported early in the day, but they've backed off now," said Mark Gold, managing partner at Top Third Ag Marketing.

"The talk is that we will lose corn acres into beans because of wet planting," he said.

Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) July soybeans were 1-1/2 cents higher at $8.44-1/2 a bushel at 12:08 p.m. CDT (1708 GMT) after notching a contract low of $8.41-3/4 earlier in the session.

July corn was down 3/4 cents at $3.69-3/4 a bushel while CBOT July wheat fell 5-1/4 cents to $4.38-3/4 a bushel.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported 293,922 tonnes in new-crop U.S. soybean sales to Mexico on Friday.

Sales to top importer China remain quiet.

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Friday that President Donald Trump would "stand firm" on his demands for structural changes to China's trade practices, and removal of U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods would be a part of a mechanism to enforce any deal with Beijing. But he added that Trump "remains very hopeful" about reaching a deal in talks next week.

More rain expected around the Midwest next week is likely to keep many farmers sidelined instead of planting corn.

The USDA is due to update its planting progress estimate on Monday, with corn planting sure to remain well behind the normal early-May pace.

(Additional reporting by Naveen Thukral in Singapore and Sybille de La Hamaide in Paris; editing by Susan Fenton and Chris Reese)