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CHICAGO, Jan 6 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean export sales hit a marketing-year low last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Friday in a report that revealed China and other importers will take crops previously listed as sold to undisclosed buyers.
The relabeling of destinations for shipments previously earmarked "unknown" surprised traders who had expected China, the world's top soybean buyer, to make bigger new purchases in the latest week. The switching also pressured futures prices.
Exporters in the week ended Dec. 29 struck deals to sell just 87,500 tonnes of U.S. soybeans for delivery in the 2016/2017 marketing year, which ends on Sept. 1, according to the USDA. That was down 91 percent from the previous week and 94 percent from the prior four-week average.
Traders had expected sales in the week at 800,000 to 1.2 million tonnes.
China bought 641,500 tonnes, according to the USDA. However, the total included 626,000 tonnes that had previously been labeled as sold to "unknown destinations," meaning the purchases were not new business.
Other buyers, including Indonesia, Vietnam and Spain, also each said they would take delivery of U.S. soybeans that had previously been earmarked for unknown destinations.
January soybean futures were down 17-1/4 cents at $9.86-1/4 a bushel at the Chicago Board of Trade. (Reporting by Tom Polansek; Additional reporting by Julie Ingwersen and Mark Weinraub; Editing by Dan Grebler)