GRAINS-Soybeans hold near 3-week high, wheat rises for 4th session

* Soybeans trade near their highest since Sept. 22
    * Wheat up for 4th day on strong export demand, corn firms

 (Adds details, quotes)
    By Naveen Thukral
    SINGAPORE, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Chicago soybeans were little
changed on Tuesday, trading near last session's highest in more
than three weeks, with prices underpinned by strong demand and
firm edible oil markets. 
    Wheat rose for a fourth consecutive session on support from
short-covering by funds, while corn edged higher after closing
almost flat on Monday.
    The Chicago Board of Trade's most-active soybean contract
 added a quarter of a cent to $9.78-1/2 a bushel by 0224
GMT, not far off last session's peak of $9.79 a bushel, the
highest since Sept. 22.
    Wheat rose 0.2 percent to $4.24-3/4 a bushel and corn
 gained 0.4 percent to $3.55-1/4 a bushel.
    "Chinese are buying U.S. soybeans and we saw big gains in
the palm oil market ... these are factors impacting soybeans,"
said Kaname Gokon at brokerage Okato Shoji in Tokyo.
    "For wheat, we are finally seeing U.S. wheat moving in
international tenders. We think U.S. wheat is competitive at
current levels."
    Soybeans are drawing support as Malaysian palm oil 
surged more than 4 percent on Monday, partly on forecasts of
weaker production growth for the month of October. 
    There was additional support for the soybean market from
higher-than-expected export inspections. The U.S. Department of
Agriculture reported export inspections of U.S. soybeans in the
latest week at 2.5 million tonnes, above a range of trade
estimates for 1.3 million to 1.6 million tonnes. 
    The National Oilseed Processors Association said its members
crushed 129.405 million bushels of soybeans in September, above
an average of trade estimates for 127.7 million. 
    The NOPA reported U.S. soyoil stocks at the end of September
at 1.376 billion lbs, down from 1.620 billion a month earlier
and tighter than the average trade estimate of 1.500 billion.
    After the CBOT close on Monday, the USDA said the U.S. corn
harvest was 46 percent complete, behind the five-year average of
49 percent. The soybean harvest was 62 percent complete, near
the five-year average of 63 percent. 
    Farmers have been reluctant sellers of corn this autumn,
opting to store much of the crop and hold out for higher prices.
    Wheat futures firmed on fund-driven short covering and a
pick-up in global wheat export business. The latest deal was
Monday's 610,000-tonne hard wheat purchase by Saudi Arabia.
 Grains prices at  0224 GMT
 Contract    Last    Change  Pct chg  Two-day chg  MA 30   RSI
 CBOT wheat  424.75  1.00    +0.24%   +0.89%       404.68  71
 CBOT corn   355.25  1.25    +0.35%   +0.28%       339.63  69
 CBOT soy    978.50  0.25    +0.03%   +1.66%       961.83  66
 CBOT rice   10.36   -$0.04  -0.43%   +1.97%       $9.91   66
 WTI crude   50.22   $0.28   +0.56%   -0.26%       $47.27  57
 Euro/dlr    $1.102  $0.002  +0.17%   +0.43%               
 USD/AUD     0.7664  0.004   +0.51%   +0.70%               
 Most active contracts
 Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel. Rice: USD per
 RSI 14, exponential

 (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Richard Pullin)