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Morning markets: soy takes a breather while grains squabble

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Can

soybeans

make it a clean sweep of gains for the week?

Not if early deals are anything to go by, in which the oilseed fell back.

Mixed signals from external markets played a part in instilling a note of caution, after Standard & Poor's lowered its credit rating for Spain, and with some doubts over how the markets would take Chinese inflation data.

Inflation fell to 6.1% last month, from 6.3% in August, in line with expectations. But food price inflation, deemed a particular indicator of the risk of public unrest, remained at a toppy 13.4%.

Tokyo

shares

fell 0.9%, as did Sydney stocks. But the

dollar

was static, and

crude

edged higher.

Data later

Indeed, there was a temptation to take profit, after gains of some 8% this week, spurred by soybeans coming out best from Wednesday's monthly set of US Department of Agriculture crop estimates which, unexpectedly, trimmed forecasts for domestic yield and end 2011-12 inventories.

"I would not be surprised by a slight technical correction, with soybeans gaining nearly $1 a bushel for the week," Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities said.

As to how far any sell-off is likely to go, much will depend on two sets of data due later on, with the US industry figures on the soybean crush for September, for which traders are expecting figures of 118m bushels of the oilseed processed, with

soyoil

stocks estimated at 2.139bn pounds.

Furthermore, there are weekly US export sales data, delayed to Friday by the Columbus Day holiday earlier in the week, and viewed coming in for soybeans at 650,000-750,000 tonnes, in line with the previous week's 721,000 tonnes.

Chart pointer

Technically, the oilseed has gained some positive points, after finishing above its 20-day moving average of $12.38 ¾ a bushel, for November delivery, in the last session.

"It was the first close back over the 20-day since September 9," Mike Mawdsley, at Market 1, noted.

The contract remained comfortably ahead of that level, even after a 0.4% pull back to $12.52 a bushel as of 07:50 GMT (08:50 UK time).

Corn vs wheat

Still, that left it behind the grains this time, which continued their tug of war prompted by divergent fundamentals.

Wheat's

are looking decidedly bearish, after the USDA on Wednesday upgraded its estimate for world stocks at end of 2011-12 to a 10-year high of 202.4m tonnes. And, indeed, the grain has pulled back on both sides of the Atlantic.

Technically, "the next downside objectives in the wheat market consists of the recent lows of $5.96 ¾ in Chicago December; $6.77 ¼ a bushel in Kansas December; and $6.93 a bushel in Minneapolis March", Benson Quinn's Brian Henry said.

"But these levels will not support a wheat market that is trading on its own fundamentals."

Russia data

Furthermore, one crumb of comfort in the last session, that Russian winter grain sowings will, at 17.5m hectares, fall some 500,000 hectares short of the official target may not be such a fillip for bulls after all.

"This still represents a sharp rise from the 15.9m hectares sown last year," Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange's estimate of a 12.6m-tonne Argentine wheat crop - down from 15.8m tonnes last season after dry weather - was more helpful, with the USDA pegging the harvest at 13.5m tonnes.

'Market is likely doomed'

Still, the main support for wheat is

corn's

tight fundamentals, with US stocks still looking thin, even after a USDA upgrade this week.

"The wheat market is likely doomed, if the corn market does not remain supported," Mr Henry said.

While Chicago corn did drop, weakened a touch by broader market caution, falling 0.25 cents to $6.38 a bushel for December delivery, that still left it at an unusual premium to wheat, which drew comfort on that to add 0.7% to $6.21 ¼ a bushel.

Wheat typically garners the premium between the two grains, which are interchangeable in many uses, due to its higher protein content.

Export boost

In Asia,

palm oil

for December managed gains hard to come by in Kuala Lumpur these days, adding 0.8% to 2,866 ringgit a tonne.

The gain was attributed to data earlier in the week showing strong Malaysian exports, pegged running 32% higher, month on month, by Intertek Testing Services, with gains to all three major markets of China, Europe and the Indian sub-continent.

By Agrimoney.com

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