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Morning markets: soybeans ease as investors crunch data mass

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After the storm, some calm.

Agricultural commodity markets which in the last session were floored by a cocktail of influences, both from external markets and a barrage of crop data, recovered some composure.

And there was something of a "last shall be first" approach in Chicago, with grains, the worst performers last time, outperforming soybeans, which have been Chicago's market leader.

Indeed, the May soybean contract was 0.1% lower at $14.24 ¼ a bushel as of 08:50 UK time (02:50 Chicago time).

'Technically overbought'

Are weaker times ahead for soybeans? The oilseed's performance over the last six sessions, during which it has posted seven-month intraday highs but closed little higher, has altered its technical picture.

The last session's "price action with the front month May contract trading an outside lower day on the charts appears technically overbought", Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities said, a reference to the May contract's negative close after trading over wider range than in the previous session.

"A 'buy the rumour, sell the fact' trade could be developing," given that the US Department of Agriculture Wasde world crop supply and demand report, which formed the centrepiece of Tuesday's data barrage, contained "little in the way of new information from the bulls".

The Wasde cut estimates for Argentine and Brazilian soybean crops, and for US end 2011-12 inventories, but to levels within range of market estimates.

"The short-term trend [is] looking to be more sideways/ consolidative as market awaits next month's 2012-13 balance sheets for fresh direction."

The USDA's April Wasde will contain its first full balance sheets for next season.

'No key reversal down'

At Market 1, Mike Mawdsley was less negative over soybeans' technical picture, noting that while the May contract in the last session "traded an outside day down, it didn't have a key reversal down", finishing within the bounds of the previous session.

"Soybeans have the most bullish news and should be the leader going forward."

And, indeed, it was noticeable that even by 08:50 UK time, the May contract had recovered some ground from an intraday low of $14.20 a bushel hit earlier.

Signally, the new crop November contract recovered too from an early low of $13.62 a bushel, to reach $13.67 ¾ a bushel, up 0.1% on the day, and not losing too much ground against new crop December


, which added 0.4% to $5.45 ½ a bushel.

The new crop soybean: corn ratio stayed at 2.51, above the 2.50 seen as favouring soybeans, if a little below levels reached earlier in the month, when concerns about the oilseed being overlooked were at their height.

In line with the mood

Corn's gains, which also included a 0.4% rebound to $6.37 a bushel in the May contract, were more in line with the general commodity market mood, with the likes of


and Brent


also making small recoveries.

Indeed, while financial markets remained downbeat, in the face of disappointing economic data from China and the US besides fresh concerns over eurozone debt, Asian shares slowed the pace of decline seen on Western markets in the last session.

Tokyo stocks fell 0.8% and Seoul shares 0.1%, while Shanghai shares added 0.1%.

The safe haven of the


eased a touch, shedding 0.3%, so making dollar denominated exports, such as many commodities, that much more affordable too.

'Frost/freeze concerns'



rebounded 0.4% to $6.28 ¼ a bushel for May delivery, regaining some ground lost in the last session, if not succeeding in closing its atypical discount to corn.

Wheat was actually seen coming out better than corn from the Wasde, in that the estimate for US stocks was cut in line with expectations, and for world stocks more significantly than forecast.

The report was "friendlier than expected", Mr Mawdsley said, while adding that "ending stocks are still historically large with a crop in excellent condition at the present time".

What may be key to the grain's near-term performance is a turn cooler in the US weather, with "frost/freeze concerns the next night or two in soft red winter wheat country".

Rubber drops

Elsewhere, Kuala Lumpur

palm oil

was denied by a holiday an opportunity to react to the Wasde.

But in Tokyo,


tumbled 3.7% to 310.20 yen a kilogramme.

Ker Chung Yang, at Philip Futures in Singapore, flagged the setback to rubber, as an industrial commodity, from "disappointing US jobs data and Chinese trade and inflation data", with a firm yen also presenting a setback after the Bank of Japan left its policy rate unchanged.

Trading volumes have also been low, "because many traders in Thailand were closing positions or have already left for the Thai New Year holiday that begins this week", Thailand being the top rubber exporting country.


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