China has purchased 120,000 metric tons of US corn for shipment by the end of August, bringing its total confirmed purchases this season to nearly 4 million metric tons, Reuters reported. Analysts expect more purchases before the 2011-12 marketing year ends on September 1, meaning that US grain stocks, already expected to shrink to a 16-year low by next harvest, could tighten further. The US Department of Agriculture has forecast that China will import 4 million metric tons of corn this marketing year, a 17-year-high. That figure now seems likely to be revised upward, possibly surpassing the record 4.287 million metric tons imported in 1994-95. China has become a major global importer of corn in the past several years as the growth of the domestic meat industry has helped to push demand beyond domestic supply. The country has bought around one million metric tons during each of the last past two years, partly due steep domestic grain prices.