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Morning markets: planting slowdown bolsters wheat

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Wheat prices maintained their upward path, helped by data showing a slowdown in US plantings, in a mixed morning for Chicago crops.

All the big-three farm commodities set off in good spirits after official data showed that rain had braked America's corn and soybeans harvests at their slowest in at least a generation, with winter wheat plantings beginning to lag too.

Farmers had completed 69% of winter wheat plantings by Sunday, compared with an average of 78% by this time of year, the US Department of Agriculture said, noting Illinois, Indiana and Ohio as particularly behind the pace.

The dollar also did its bit by falling to fresh 14-month lows, stopping with an ace of hitting $1.50 against the euro.

A weaker greenback makes US exports, such as farm commodities, more competitive.

Good condition

However, the rally in corn and soybeans was muted by the good condition of crops, despite hard frosts in many parts of the Midwest this month.

The proportion of the corn crop rated "good" or "excellent" was, at 70%, the same as last week, and historically high, with the proportion of soybeans in the same bands stable at a creditable 65%.

Chicago soybeans both for November and January dropped back after retaking the $10-a-bushel mark earlier. The November contract stood 0.25 cents lower at $9.96 a bushel at 06:50 GMT, with January 1 cent down at $9.99 ½ a bushel.

Corn stayed in positive territory, just, adding 1 cent to $3.87 ¼ a bushel.

Wheat did best at holding on to gains, rising 5.5 cents to $5.23 ¼ a bushel for Chicago's December contract.

It also narrowed to less than 9 cents the premium of its Kansas equivalent, which added 3.25 cents to $5.32 a bushel.

Weak exports

A rally for Kuala Lumpur palm oil also began to run out of steam after weak data on Malaysian exports.

Cargo surveyor Intertek Testing Services said that palm shipments rise 1.8% to 812,095 tonnes in the first 20 days of the month. It has reported a 12.6% rise for the first 15 days of October.

The benchmark January contract closed the morning session on the Bursa Malaysia Derivative Exchange up 7 ringgit at 2,204 ringgit a tonne.


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