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Morning markets: crops await technical rally

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Agricultural commodities made a mixed start to Tuesday, waiting for an anticipated rally, sparked by technical factors, to begin to make a significant impact.

The closing of the Reuters-Jeffries CRB commodities index on Monday at a four-month high of 232.38 was viewed by some observers as a strong buy signal. The index had previously approached 230 only to bounce lower.

"The CRB commodities index last night broke out of the trading range and that could prompt an influx of new capital into the commodities markets," said Doug Whitehead, ANZ's agricultural commodity strategist.

In theory, the biggest beneficiaries would be commodities with fundamental reasons to buy, as well as technical ones.

"It could well benefit soy further," Mr Whitehead said.

Export support

Soybeans were indeed ahead in Chicago, adding 11.75 cents to $11.24 a bushel for the May contract and smaller amounts for new crop deliveries.

Strong export data from the US, showing 18m bushels inspected rather than the 10-12m forecast, underpinned the crop.

However, its vegetable oil partner, palm oil, succumbed to a touch of profit-taking following Monday's 4.1% rise. Bursa Malaysia's benchmark July contract stood 8 ringgit lower at 2,694 ringgit a tonne.

A weaker oil price, with Brent off 41 cents at $54.17, only encouraged traders to seek safety.

Planting data

And wheat and corn were not too far ahead, despite some modestly supportive planting data too.

May corn was 2 cents higher at $4.00 ½ a bushel, with future contracts showing similar gains. September corn, for instance, added 2.5 cents to $4.17 a bushel.

May wheat added 1.5 cents to $5.40 a bushel, with its September comrade 1 cent higher at $5.79 ½ a bushel.

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