November 2, 2018 / 5:59 AM / 15 days ago

GRAINS-Soybeans set for biggest weekly gain in 16 mths on US-China trade hopes

* Soybeans up for 4th session, poised for strong weekly gain

* Signs of easing U.S.-China trade tensions underpin prices

* China soymeal futures down 5 pct after Trump-Xi phone call

* Wheat eyes weekly rise after three weeks of losses (Recasts on rise in soybean prices)

By Naveen Thukral

SINGAPORE, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Chicago soybean futures rose for a fourth consecutive session on Friday, with the market set for its biggest weekly gain in 16 months on signs of easing trade tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Wheat is on course to end the week on a positive note after dropping for the last three weeks, with expectations of higher demand for U.S. wheat supporting the market.

The most-active soybean contract on the Chicago Board of Trade is up more than 5 percent this week, the biggest weekly rally since early July, 2017.

Soybeans were up 0.7 percent at $8.89 a bushel as of 0543 GMT, after earlier in the session climbing to their highest since Aug. 21 at $8.94-1/2 a bushel.

“Overall, the (soybean) market remains supported by optimism on U.S.-China trade relations,” said Phin Ziebell, agribusiness economist, National Australia Bank.

In China, the most-active soymeal futures fell by the maximum 5 percent as traders reacted to the positive tone of a phone call between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Trump and Xi both expressed optimism about resolving a bitter trade dispute, with Trump saying on Twitter that trade discussions with China were “moving along nicely,” and that he planned to meet with Xi on the sidelines of the G20 leaders summit, after the two had a “very good” phone discussion.

Wheat was up 0.2 percent for the week after losing 3 percent in the past three weeks, while corn is down 0.4 percent this week, having closed almost unchanged in the previous week.

Net corn export sales last week totalled less than 400,000 tonnes for the third straight week, while net soybean sales came to just 455,807 tonnes, compared with nearly 2 million tonnes in the same week last year, U.S. Department of Agriculture data showed. .

Net wheat export sales, however, topped trade expectations at 582,545 tonnes, including 50,000 tonnes to Egypt. (Reporting by Naveen Thukral; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier)

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