GRAINS-U.S. soybeans stay firm as market awaits return of Chinese buying
* Soybeans set for second weekly gain in a row
* Market expects Chinese demand as trade deal takes effect
* Wheat, corn also steady as virus concerns abate (Updates with European trading, changes)
By Gus Trompiz and Naveen Thukral
PARIS/SINGAPORE, Feb 14 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures edged higher on Friday to stay on course for a second week of gains on expectations that China will step up purchases of U.S. crop.
Corn and wheat also ticked up but were heading for a weekly fall as large global supplies offset support from steady export demand.
Grain markets were consolidating before a holiday weekend in the United States that will see markets closed on Monday for U.S. Presidents Day.
Traders were also looking ahead to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's annual Outlook Forum next week at which the agency will give projections for 2020 U.S. crop production.
The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board Of Trade was up 0.2% at $8.98 a bushel by 1217 GMT although it remained shy of the psychological $9 threshold.
CBOT wheat added 0.5% to $5.46-3/4 a bushel, while corn was up 0.1% at $3.80.
The market is anticipating a possible upturn in Chinese demand from next week, as the "Phase 1" trade agreement between Washington and Beijing is due to go into effect 30 days after its Jan. 15 signing.
China, the world's largest soybean importer, committed to large increases in purchases of U.S. farm goods in the trade deal, although the spread of a new coronavirus has raised doubts about Chinese demand.
"At the moment trade to China is disrupted because of the coronavirus, but China is expected to be back in the market meeting its commitment under the trade deal," said a Singapore-based trader.
U.S. soybean exports to China fell to their lowest in nearly 10 months, the USDA said on Thursday.
However, analysts still expect a shift in Chinese buying from Brazilian towards U.S. supplies as the year goes on.
Soybean and corn prices are being capped by favourable harvest prospects in South America.
The wheat market was consolidating after a near two-month low for Chicago prices this week while assessing northern hemisphere crop prospects.
Russia is currently on course for a bumper wheat harvest while U.S. and European Union production is set to be curbed by a decline in sowing.
A slide in the euro to its lowest since April 2017 against the dollar was underpinning Euronext wheat, with the March contract adding 0.5% to 193.75 euros ($209.89) a tonne.
"The weak euro coupled with the good European export dynamic of the past few weeks have made it possible for prices to retain their levels on Euronext ... despite falling prices on the Black Sea and in Chicago," consultancy Agritel said. ($1 = 0.9231 euros) (Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Alexander Smith)
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