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Morning markets: end of week jitters set in

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Palm oil got stage fright, and other commodities followed it to the wings, as a lower oil price and end-of-week jitters undermined early performances on Friday.

Palm oil, which hogged the limelight on Thursday after closing at an eight month high, gave back some of its 4.2% gain. Bursa Malaysia's benchmark July contract was 29 ringgit lower at 2,551 a tonne at 06:00 GMT.

Traders blamed the fall on profit-taking, stoked by a lower oil price, with New York crude down 53 cents at $49.10 a barrel. Brent crude was off 58 cents, taking it back below $50 a barrel too. Japanese stocks also did their bit for the bears, closing down 1.6%.

Greenback comeback

US commodities also had a rebounding dollar to deal with. The greenback was higher against most currencies bar the yen.

In Chicago, soybeans, the most consistent performer of late among the main grains, softened the most, down 7.25 cents at $10.30 ¼ a bushel for the May contract. Soybeans and palm oil, whose products are to a great extent interchangeable, have a tendency to travel in tandem.

Wheat did its best to retain the investor applause which has been directed its way over the last few days over fears that spring wheat planting in the US will remain a damp squib. Strong export data on Thursday also did their bit. May wheat was off 0.5 cents at $5.28 ¾ a bushel.

May corn was 1.25 cents lower at $3.79 ¾ a bushel, feeling the pinch of the lower oil prices, as a major feedstuff for ethanol plants, but supported nonetheless by slow US plantings too.

By Mike Verdin

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