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Morning markets: firm exports strengthen palm oil

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Palm oil put in a second strong performance, rising by nearly 3%, helped by firm export data and brighter conditions in external markets.

Intel was largely to thank for the latter. Strong results from the US technology giant sent its own shares 7% higher in after-hours trading and helped dispel more of the clouds surrounding the global economic recovery.

That helped Asian stocks but weakened the US dollar, which investors have come to view as a safe haven. Against the euro, the greenback slipped 0.3% to $1.4005, making dollar-denominated commodities, at least, appear cheaper to foreign purchasers.

Oil, indeed, stood $1.02 higher at $60.54 a barrel at 06:40 GMT for New York light crude, August delivery. Prices were also helped by data showing dwindling US petrol stocks.

Ramadan factor?

And stronger oil prices make a better case for commodities used in biofuel production, such as palm oil, which closed the morning session in Kuala Lumpur up 60 ringgit at 2,096 ringgit a tonne.

Traders also noted a report from Intertek Testing Services, the cargo surveyor, showing that exports of Malaysian palm oil products jumped 17.6% to 659,000 tonnes in the first half of July, compared with the same period last month.

Some investors also highlighted the coming of the Ramadan festival, viewed – despite its emphasis on fasting - as a potential spark for rising shipments.

Pollination and podsetting

Chicago food commodities were less volatile, caught between the positive external influences of a softer dollar and improved sentiment and the negative prospect of benign weather during a crucial stage for some crops.

Corn passes through a critical pollination stage this month, while soybeans undergo so-called podsetting in August.

Thus far, weather looks like being good for both processes.

September corn, now the nearest contract after the expiry of the July lot, lost 1.5 cents to $3.37 a bushel.

August soybeans, which have also displaced their July predecessors, managed to stay in positive territory, but not by much, adding 2.75 cents to $10.37 ¼ a bushel.

September wheat, meanwhile, added 0.75 cents to $5.30 ¾ a bushel.

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