* Big Chinese purchases of U.S. corn, ethanol fuel rally * Soybeans also up for 3rd day as rain raises Brazil harvest risks * Wheat also stayed firm as Russian export tax assessed (Updates with European trading, changes byline/dateline) By Gus Trompiz and Mai Nguyen PARIS/HANOI, Jan 27 (Reuters) - Chicago corn futures extended gains on Wednesday to touch a two-week high as big Chinese purchase of U.S. supplies put attention back on tightening global stockpiles. Soybeans also stayed firm, reaching a one-week high, as rains were set to slow early harvesting in Brazil. Wheat ticked higher, tracking corn and soy. After a sell-off last Friday, grain markets have rebounded this week. Gains on Wednesday, however, were more moderate than in the previous session as prices faced chart resistance ahead of multi-year highs struck earlier this month, traders said. The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced on Tuesday the biggest U.S. corn sale to China since July at 1.36 million tonnes. Separately, agribusiness group Archer Daniels Midland Co said China had bought about 200 million gallons of U.S. ethanol for the first half of 2021, matching its previous record for annual imports of the corn-based biofuel. Huge Chinese demand for grains has eroded available supply in the United States and other grain exporters such as Ukraine, making the market nervous about any potential harvest setbacks in South America. "The near-term underlying bullish sentiment is still very much in place. We still have two to three months at least before we have confirmation that the new crop of global grain or oilseed will be adequate," said Ole Houe, director of advisory services at agriculture brokerage IKON Commodities. "Until then, the market is likely to continue upwards, with China demand as the key driver." The Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT) most-active corn contract was up 0.8% at $5.36-1/4 a bushel, after earlier touching a two-week top at $5.39-1/2. CBOT soybeans were up 0.8% at $13.81-3/4. Rains has disrupted early harvest work in some Brazilian soybean-growing areas, also potentially delaying planting of the country's second corn crop. CBOT wheat was up 0.1% at $6.65-3/4 a bushel. Concerns over available supplies continued to underpin prices, after Russia approved a higher export tax on wheat from March 1. Prices at 1003 GMT Last Change Pct End Ytd Pct Move 2020 Move CBOT wheat 665.75 0.50 0.08 640.50 3.94 CBOT corn 536.25 4.00 0.75 484.00 10.80 CBOT soy 1381.75 11.50 0.84 1311.00 5.40 Paris wheat Mar 230.25 0.50 0.22 213.25 7.97 Paris maize Mar 215.25 0.25 0.12 198.50 8.44 Paris rape Feb 439.75 1.25 0.29 418.25 5.14 WTI crude oil 52.90 0.29 0.55 48.52 9.03 Euro/dlr 1.21 0.00 -0.3 1.2100 0.17 3 Most active contracts - Wheat, corn and soy US cents/bushel, Paris futures in euros per tonne (Reporting by Gus Trompiz; editing by David Evans)
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