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Soy futures consolidate after gains, keep eye on Brazil weather

* Record Brazil crop, lull in Chinese demand cap soy rally

* Excess rain in Brazil underpin soy, corn futures

* Traders await weekly U.S. export sales data Thursday (Adds closing prices)

By Tom Polansek

CHICAGO, March 3 (Reuters) – U.S. grain and soybean futures fell on Wednesday as the markets consolidated after rallying in the previous session.

Strength in the U.S. dollar weighed on prices, analysts said, because a firm dollar makes American farm products less attractive to importers.

For soybeans, there was a “lack of fresh supportive news and demand from China after returning from their Lunar New Year holiday,” CHS Hedging said in a note.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade ended down 5 cents at $14.07-1/2 a bushel, after climbing 1.5% on Tuesday.

The contract last week touched its highest since June 2014 at $14.45-3/4, as rain delaying Brazil’s harvest has fanned worries about tight short-term supplies of the oilseed.

China, the world’s top soybean importer, is expected to increasingly buy soybeans from Brazil rather than the United States, which will harvest its next crop in the autumn.

Analysts expect Brazil, the world’s top soy exporter, to harvest a record crop.

“The persistent rains in Brazil still cause consequent delays in both the soybean harvest and the corn sowing,” consultancy Agritel said in a note. “In Argentina, on the other hand, the water deficit remains dominant.”

CBOT corn fell 9-3/4 cents to $5.35-1/4 a bushel, after surging last month to its highest price since June 2013. CBOT wheat ended down 10-1/4 cents at $6.56 per bushel.

Funds were net sellers of corn, wheat and soybeans, traders said.

On Thursday, traders will review weekly export sales data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

U.S. soybean sales in the week ended Feb. 25 are expected to total 100,000 to 800,000 tonnes, according to analysts. Weekly sales are estimated at 450,000 to 1.05 million tonnes for corn and 100,000 to 600,000 tonnes for wheat. (Reporting by Tom Polansek in Chicago, Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips, Steve Orlofsky and Jonathan Oatis)

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