Wires

GRAINS-Wheat, soybeans inch higher as trade uncertainty lingers; corn slips

Emily Chow

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SHANGHAI, Dec 23 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat and soybeans edged higher on Monday, while corn eased in rangebound trade ahead of the year-end holiday season, as lingering uncertainty over an interim Sino-U.S. trade deal fuelled concerns over Chinese demand.

The most active wheat futures were up 0.1% at $5.43 a bushel around 0300 GMT, after slipping from a five-month top last week in three previous consecutive sessions of losses.

The most active soybeans futures were up 0.03% at $9.28-1/2 a bushel.

The most active corn futures were down 0.1% at $3.87-1/2 a bushel.

"It's the holidays now... so things will be quiet," said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at brokerage IKON Commodities in Sydney, regarding market trade.

"The only thing that can change it is if China makes U.S. purchases."

China and the U.S. had struck a so called "Phase 1" trade deal that includes a commitment by Beijing to increase purchases of U.S. agricultural products. China's top agriculture consultancy said last week that the country will make good on a pledge to buy more than $40 billion of American farm goods.

The deal, which is yet to be signed, is fuelling scepticism over whether China will be able to import such a large amount of U.S. farm products.

A record size of Brazilian soybean crops entering the market next year could also limit Chinese purchases of U.S. soybeans.

Brazil's 2019/20 soybean harvest is seen coming in at a record 122.7 million tonnes, according to the average forecast in a Reuters survey of 16 market analysts, due to improving weather prospects. This would be up 6.7% from the government's estimate for the previous season.

European Union's wheat exports to China this season are expected to reach about 1 million tonnes, led by a run of French sales, after international trade disputes allowed Europe to shift some of its big 2019 crop, grain market sources said.

China is the world's largest wheat grower but also imports several million tonnes a year to cover its needs.

(Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Rashmi Aich)