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GRAINS-Soybeans hit highest since July 2016 as USDA sees lower supplies

* USDA slashes inventory estimates

* Corn jumps 1% on strong Chinese demand

* Wheat edges higher

SYDNEY, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Chicago Board of Trade soybean futures rose 1% on Wednesday to hit their highest in more than four years after the U.S. Department of Agriculture said the end-of-season stockpiles will fall to their smallest in seven years.

The forecasts, issued in a monthly crop report, reflected a decline in U.S. harvest expectations and strong exports to China and other countries.

Corn rose 0.8% on strong Chinese demand, while wheat also edged higher. The most-active soybean futures on the Chicago Board of Trade were up 1.1% at $11.58-3/4 a bushel by 0259 GMT, near the session high of $11.60-1/2 a bushel - the highest since July 2016.

“The USDA’s new estimates of supply and demand have been the catalyst for the rise,” said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy, Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The USDA projected that U.S. soybean stockpiles would dwindle to 190 million bushels by the end of the 2020/21 marketing year, which would be the smallest ending stocks since 2013/14, if realised.

The USDA lowered its forecast of Argentina’s 2020/21 soybean crop to 51 million tonnes, from 53.5 million last month, but left its estimate of Brazil’s crop unchanged at 133 million tonnes.

Wheat futures were up 0.4% at $6.11 a bushel, having closed 1.8% firmer on Tuesday.

Corn futures were up 1% at $4.27 a bushel, having gained 3.8% in the previous session when prices hit the July 2019 high of $4.27-1/4 a bushel.

China this summer and fall has ramped up its purchases of U.S. farm goods, including soybeans and corn. The USDA nearly doubled its forecast for corn imports by China in the 2020/21 season due to soaring domestic prices and rising feed grain demand.

The agency pegged 2020/21 U.S. corn ending stocks at 1.702 billion bushels. The U.S. corn harvest was seen at 14.507 billion bushels and the soybean harvest at 4.170 billion bushels. (Reporting by Colin Packham, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)

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