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Morning markets: crops drift in wind-down to Xmas

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Soybeans monopolised what seasonal cheer there was in early deals on Monday, managing some gains in trade notable for small volumes so far, as might be expected in a Christmas-shortened week.

The dollar, whose revival last week caused anxious moments on many markets, was a touch easier, hitting $1.4359 at one point against the euro, losing 1 cent on its high of Friday.

But investors in Chicago crops, which become more affordable to importers as the dollar weakens, appeared to have limited appetite for taking big bets with many players already wound down for the break.

Chinese influence

What activity there was centred on soybeans, which stood 5 cents higher at $10.17 a bushel for January delivery on volume of 4,266 lots as of 07:40 GMT, nearly twice as much trading as in the near-term corn and wheat contracts put together.

A 0.3% rise in soybeans on the Dalian exchange in China, the biggest importer of US soybeans, was helpful.

The performance takes Chicaco soybeans back above their 50-day moving average after closing below in on Friday – a sign some technical traders had viewed as ominous.

'Break away coming'

Technical signals on corn were portentous too, with nine-day, 20-day and 50-day moving averages within 3 cents of each other.

"[This] usually means a break away coming, but which way?" Mike Mawdsley at broker Market1 said.

There wasn't much sign of it yet, with the March lot down 1 cent at $3.96 ¾ a bushel.

On a fundamental note, some analysts have also expressed a little disappointment at US data released late on Friday showing weak numbers of cattle on feed.

"It may indicate a slowdown in feed demand for the winter months," Jon Michalscheck at Benson Quinn Commodities said.

Wheat, meanwhile, drifted 0.75 cents to $5.27 ¼ a bushel, although Benson Quinn's Kevin Kjorsvik saw some hope of redemption.

"Wheat has experienced steady declines in the first half of December and deserves to consolidate at these levels in pre-holiday trade," he said.

Exports weaken

In Kuala Lumpur, palm oil staged something of a reverse from its strong finish to last week, dropping 2% from is six-month highs.

Profit-taking was blamed for the slide, with export data also weak.

Cargo surveyor Intertek Testing Services said Malaysian exports of palm oil products slid 7.7% in the first 20 days of December, with rival Societe Generale de Surveillance pegging the slide at 7.4%.

March palm oil stood 51 ringgit lower at $2,569 ringgit a tonne.


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