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GRAINS-Soybeans ease for 2nd session on demand concerns, Mideast tensions

Naveen Thukral

* Soybean prices fall as lower U.S. weekly exports weigh

* Wheat futures loses more ground, corn ticks up after losses

(Recasts with change in market direction, adds details, and quote in paragraph 6) SINGAPORE, Jan 6 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures slipped for a second session on Monday, as concerns over demand for U.S. supplies amid a flare-up of tensions in the Middle East put pressure on prices. Wheat extended losses, while corn edged up after closing lower on Friday. Asian shares toppled from an 18-month top on Monday as heightened Middle East tensions sent investors scurrying for the safety of gold, which hit a near seven-year high while oil jumped to four-month peaks. The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade was down 0.1% at $9.40-1/2 a bushel by 0410 GMT, having closed 1.5% weaker on Friday. Wheat lost 0.2% at $5.53-1/4 a bushel and corn advanced 0.1% to $3.87 a bushel. "Falling demand is a key concern for the market and the added uncertainty about Iran, and how that may impact the whole world," said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at brokerage IKON Commodities in Sydney. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) said total U.S. soybean export sales last week were 332,047 tonnes, below analysts' expectations of 350,000 tonnes-1.05 million tonnes. China bought 160,241 tonnes for 2019/20 delivery, including about 132,000 tonnes switched from unknown destinations.

Traders are waiting for the USDA to issue crop production data on Jan. 10 amid uncertainty about the size of last year's corn harvest, which was delayed by cold, wet weather. Weekly U.S. corn export sales of 539,991 tonnes were within analysts' estimates, while wheat sales of 333,250 tonnes were towards the lower-end of expectations. The market is anxious about how the agency adjusts forecasts for crop exports to China, after Washington and Beijing agreed on a Phase 1 trade agreement last month. As U.S. crop exports suffer, the Black Sea producers including Russia and Ukraine are gaining market share. Ukraine increased its grain exports by 34% to 31.1 million tonnes in the 2019/20 July-June season, helped by higher exports of wheat and corn, the Ministry for Development of Economy, Trade and Agriculture said on Friday. Commodity funds were net sellers of Chicago Board of Trade corn, wheat, soybean, soymeal and soyoil futures contracts on Friday, traders said.

Grains prices at 0410 GMT

Contract Last Change Pct chg Two-day chg MA 30 RSICBOT wheat 553.25 -1.25 -0.23% -1.25% 537.94 57CBOT corn 387.00 0.50 +0.13% 0 55CBOT soy 940.50 -1.00 -0.11% 940.50 50CBOT rice 13.19 -$0.04 -0.26% +0.19% $12.85 62WTI crude 64.58 $1.53 +2.43% +5.56% $59.69

Most active contracts Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel. Rice: USD per hundredweight RSI 14, exponential

(Reporting by Naveen Thukral, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)