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BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, July 3 (Reuters) - Argentine soy prices haverisen by $25 per tonne in the last month, pushed up by buying from localplants that are rushing to meet growing demand from China and Europe,analysts said.Since the end of May, the oilseed, which is Argentina's mainagricultural export, has soared in all local markets to $165 to $170 pertonne from $140 to $145 in May.'There is a lot of demand from abroad, from Europe and Asia," CarlosPouiller, an analyst at the Agriculture Department, told Reuters.Pouiller said exports of unprocessed soybeans rose 21 percent in Juneto 4.6 million tonnes, compared with 3.7 million tonnes in the priormonth.By the same date a year ago, Argentine soy exports had reached 3.6million tonnes."Local industry is buying at a strong weekly rhythm because the pricesfor soymeal allows them a good margin," said Sebastian Olivero, an analystat Sparks.Until recently, soy prices had been low, pressured in part by thegovernment's forecast for a record crop of 25.76 million tonnes. Soycovered vast expanses of land, especially in the provinces of Buenos Airesand Santa Fe, during the growing season. As of June 22, the harvest wasnearly complete."At these values, soy for immediate delivery sells well. It'sprofitable. A few months ago, we didn't expect these values," said atrader.

EXPORTS KEYChina, Argentina's No. 1 soybean importer, has increased imports of theoilseed in recent weeks. China is expected to buy 11.5 million tonnes ofsoy this year, according to data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.In addition, a drought in China could reduce production and increasethe country's import needs."China's harvest won't be good and they will probably need more soythan they expected to need. China needs to get out and buy. South Koreaand Japan are also in the market," said a trader.China imports about 3 million tonnes of Argentine soy a year, althoughthis year, they have already surpassed that figure, said Pouiller.The European Union's ban on animal-based livestock feed, put in placeto help stop the spread of so-called "mad cow" disease, has also led to anincrease in demand for soymeal.By last week, Argentine exports of 2000/01 soymeal production hadreached 4.2 million tonnes, while by the same date a year ago, salestotaled 3.3 million tonnes.In addition, soy prices on the Chicago futures market have risen nearly$10 over the last several sessions, on a drop in soy stocks and in plantedarea in the United States. The gains in Chicago have helped support pricesin Argentina."The market is influenced by Chicago," said a trader. "But I don't seeprices dropping soon (...) I think we are going to have a sustained marketat least until the U.S. harvest enters the market."

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