GRAINS-Soybeans rise on increased optimism for U.S.-China trade deal

Tom Polansek

* Trump adviser says U.S., China getting close to deal

* China was top buyer of U.S. soybeans last week -USDA

* Technical buying supports soybean market -analyst (Recasts with U.S. trading, changes byline/dateline; previous PARIS/SINGAPORE)

CHICAGO, Nov 15 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures crawled higher on Friday on increased optimism that the United States and China may soon strike a deal to ease their trade war.

Sentiment about the prospects for an agreement improved after White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said on Thursday evening that the two sides were "getting close" to a deal, traders said. It was a switch after doubts about the potential for an interim deal pressured soybean futures on Thursday.

Traders and farmers are paying close attention to trade negotiations because U.S. agricultural exports have suffered since Beijing imposed retaliatory tariffs on American soybeans and other farm goods in 2018 as part of the trade war.

U.S. Department of Agriculture data issued on Friday showed China was the top buyer of U.S. soybeans during the week ended Nov. 7, accounting for 61% of the weekly total of 1.256 million tonnes.

Farmers hope a trade deal will open the door for even more sales.

"USDA export sales were not that bad and included a good chunk to China again," said Terry Reilly, senior commodity analyst for Futures International in Chicago.

Since the start of the marketing year for soybeans on Sept. 1, Chinese buyers have committed to buying 8.036 million tonnes from the United States. Of that total, 3.153 million tonnes have been shipped.

That is up from a year ago, when 647,990 tonnes in soybean sales had been booked by Chinese buyers and 339,003 tonnes had been shipped.

"China has been a steady buyer of U.S. beans since September, although export commitments are still running well below pre-tariff levels," said Tomm Pfitzenmaier, analyst for Summit Commodity Brokerage in Iowa.

Most-active January soybeans were up 4 cents at $9.20-3/4 at the Chicago Board of Trade by 11:20 a.m. CST (1720 GMT). Technical buying helped lift the contract as it topped its 200-day moving average at $9.19, Reilly said.

Gains in soymeal futures also helped support soybeans, traders said. December soymeal jumped $3.50 to $306.60 per short ton.

U.S. oilseed processors crushed a record-large volume of soybeans in October, according to National Oilseed Processors Association data.

The most-active corn contract was down 3-3/4 cents at $3.72 a bushel and touched its lowest price since Sept. 27. CBOT wheat fell 4-1/4 cents to $5.03-1/2 a bushel.

Weekly U.S. corn export sales were in line with analysts' estimates at 581,600 tonnes. U.S. wheat sales of 238,600 tonnes were near the low end of forecasts. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago. Additional reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; editing by Uttaresh.V, Elaine Hardcastle and Tom Brown)