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GRAINS-Corn, wheat firm as crop risks persist

Gus Trompiz and Naveen Thukral

* U.S. rain poses risks to corn planting, wheat harvest

* Prices hold below Monday highs as fund covering abates

* Soybeans little changed as farmer aid, export data eyed

(Updates with European trading, changes byline/dateline) PARIS/SINGAPORE, May 23 (Reuters) - Chicago corn futures edged higher on Thursday and wheat rebounded as heavy rain in U.S. grain belts continued to pose risks to crops. Price movements were moderate, however, with corn and wheat holding below multi-month highs struck earlier this week. Investors sought more indications about the impact of excess moisture on corn planting and the upcoming winter wheat harvest, while also factoring in large global supplies. Soybeans edged lower as traders awaited details of a second round of U.S. government aid for farmers affected by a trade dispute with China that has curbed U.S. soybean shipments. Grain markets were also watching for weekly U.S. export data at 1230 GMT for an update on overseas demand. The most active corn contract on the Chicago Board of Trade was up 0.5% at $3.96-1/2 a bushel by 1126 GMT. It had reached a one-year high at $3.99 on Tuesday after a seven-session rally before consolidating on Wednesday. CBOT wheat was up 1.1% at $4.78 a bushel. It had closed down more than 1% on Wednesday when it retreated from a three-month high touched on Tuesday. Soybeans ticked up 0.3% to $8.30-3/4 a bushel, having seen a technical bounce on Wednesday. "Grain markets are cautious in looking for their next direction as weather maps remain wet for U.S. plantings, and new demand figures (export sales) are on tap," brokerage Allendale said in a note. Grain markets have been rattled by forecasts for heavy rain this week in parts of the U.S. Midwest and Plains that threatens to deepen corn planting delays and damage some maturing winter wheat. More showers are expected next week. The weather risks encouraged a wave of covering by investment funds holding large short positions, before a lull on Wednesday. The U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday that a lower-than-expected 49% of the U.S. corn crop has been planted, the slowest pace on record, based on data going back to 1980. Soybeans were 19% planted, also short of market expectations. Chicago wheat drew some support from Euronext's Paris-based futures, which rebounded on Thursday. Russian government forecasts for the upcoming 2019/20 season tempered expectations for bumper supplies in the world's biggest wheat exporting country. Deputy Agriculture Minister Oksana Lut said on Thursday that Russia was expected to harvest 75 million tonnes of wheat, below the expectations of other forecasters, while wheat exports were projected to be 1 million tonnes lower than this season.

Prices at 1126 GMT

Last Change Pct End Ytd PctMove 2018 MoveCBOT wheat 478.00 5.25 1.11 503.25 -5.02CBOT corn 396.50 2.00 0.51 375.00 5.73CBOT soy 830.75 2.25 0.27 895.00 -7.18Paris wheat Sep 176.25 1.25 0.71 190.50 -7.48Paris maize Jun 162.75 0.50 0.31 184.50 -11.79Paris rape Aug 366.25 0.50 0.14 362.25 1.10WTI crude oil 60.50 -0.92 -1.50 45.41 33.23Euro/dlr 1.11 0.00 -0.12 1.1469 -2.88

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 Rashmi Aich and Susan Fenton)