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Morning markets: harvest delays underpin crops

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Data showing another week of slow progress in the rain-hampered US corn and soybean harvests, coupled with a slight weakening in the dollar, put a halt to the collapse farm commodity prices.

Crops managed small gains on Tuesday, in sharp contrast to their poor performance in the last session, after Washington data showed the autumn harvests, which were already their slowest since records began, falling further behind.

America's corn harvest was only 20% complete, one third of its normal progress by now, and only three percentage points better on the week.

Soybean focus

That was in part down to a focus by farmers on soybeans during breaks in the cloud, as well as direct rain delays themselves.

Still, the soybean harvest, at 44% complete, was still well below the five-year average for late October, besides falling below traders' rising forecasts for the figure.

Add in a marginally weaker dollar, as the rush to safety eased, plus a modest uptick in oil and crops had the ingredients for gains, which appeared in limited quantities.

Corn for December added 1.5 cents to $3.79 ½ a bushel, with soybeans for November gaining 4.75 cents to $9.91 ¾ a bushel.

These moves helped wheat, although fund movements will have a big say in the grain's price.

Short-covering by funds, whose net short positions on wheat fell from a record 68,000 contracts in early September to 37,600 lots last week, has been a big supporter of the wheat price.

Inventory concerns

In Kuala Lumpur, palm oil dipped 1.1%, in part playing catch up with Monday's falls in Chicago.

Fears of rising Malaysian palm stocks, amid a seasonal uptick in production, also weighed, despite Monday's data showing rising exports.

The benchmark January contract closed the morning session on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange down 25 ringgit at 2,193 ringgit.


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