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Morning markets: eurozone downgrades press on crop prices

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Monday was the first chance for many markets to react in full to Standard & Poor's eurozone downgrades. (OK, rumour of the cuts in credit ratings for countries including, notably, France shifted prices late on Friday.)

And in US markets, it will not be until tomorrow that investors get a shot, given that markets are closed today for Martin Luther King Day.

Still, reactions to the rising eurozone debt fears from what markets were open were not that encouraging.


fell by 1.7% in Shanghai, 1.4% in Tokyo and 1.4% in Singapore. The safe haven of the


edged higher against a basket of currencies, threatening a fresh 16-month high.

China prices

And many farm commodities fell too.

Futures on China's Dalian and Zhengzhou exchanges dropped pretty much across the board. Dalian


for September, the best traded lot, lost 1.6% to 4,259 yuan a tonne.


, of which China is the top consumer, importer and grower, eased 0.3% 21,140 yuan a tonne on the Zhengzhou for May delivery.

The notable exception was


, which added 0.5% to 6,435 yuan a tonne for September delivery amid rumours of state stockpiling ahead.

Multiple blow

In Kuala Lumpur,

palm oil

at one point fell below 3,100 ringgit a tonne for the first time since before Christmas before recovering some ground to stand at 3,124 ringgit a tonne at 07:30 GMT, down 0.8% on the day.

The vegetable oils complex has suffered, besides from the impact of the eurozone worries on macro-economic sentiment, from the rains which have eased concerns for the soybean crop in Argentina, the top exporter of soyoil.

Furthermore, the US Department of Agriculture last week raised its estimate of world vegetable oil supplies by 690,000 tonnes to 165.50m tonnes, albeit thanks to other oils that palm oil.

And this after the Malaysian Palm Oil Board said last week that December stock levels were higher than the market had forecast too.

Chart signals

Technically, palm oil is not looking so hot either, having moved below its 14-day moving average for the first time in two weeks.

"This could be a sign that the price could soften further towards the 100-day moving average," below 3,100 ringgit a tonne," Ker Chung Yang at Singapore-based Phillip Futures said.

"Near-term support remains at the 3,100-ringgit level. Should crude palm oil drop below the support level of 3,000 ringgit, we would not be surprised if it moves closer towards 2,930-ringgit level."

Thai support?



did better, adding 1.1% to 280.60 yen a kilogramme in Tokyo, helped by firmer


, up 0.8% above $111 a barrel for Brent crude, and by residual hopes that Thailand will, after all, implement intervention buying.

The National Rubber Committee in Thailand, the top rubber-exporting country, will meet on Tuesday to discuss the move, before it goes before cabinet next week.

Thai cash prices of unsmoked rubber sheet have halved since February last year.


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