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Morning markets: weak Chinese data floor commodities and all

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are going to maintain their knack for rising on the day before Thanksgiving, they were left with a mountain to climb after China data spooked investors.

The late-month reports on Chinese manufacturing activity, as published by HSBC, have become something of a focal point for markets.

And the November reading, unveiled on Wednesday, was poor, at 48, down from 51 in October. And coming in below 50, it signalled contraction.

The figure sent revived concerns that even the economy on which the world is relying (again) to get it through a crisis is struggling.

Indeed, coupled with a downgrade on Tuesday to 2%, from 2.5%, in the annual rate of growth in the US economy over the July-to-September quarter, it made especially unhappy reading.

Escape from risk

The one upside to the weak Chinese data is that might be seen as encouraging Beijing to reverse some of its tightening in monetary policy, to avoid a so-called "hard landing" in the economy, which would be very painful for the country, besides the world.

But markets were not looking on the bright side as of 08:40 GMT, taking a classic "risk-off" posture.


fell, by nearly 2% in Sydney, if less so in Tokyo where they fell 0.4%, while opening soft in Europe too.

The safe haven of the


added 0.3% against a basket of currencies, so adding to the pressure on dollar-denominated commodities, making them less competitive as exports.


prices fell, by 1.0% for West Texas Intermediate and by 0.3% for Brent crude.

'Choppy sessions'

And so did values of agricultural commodities which, in trade thinned by the approach of the US Thanksgiving holiday (tomorrow) and with a lack of supportive fundamental news, offered little resistance.

Advice from Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities summed it up: "Look for choppy sessions for the balance of the week with global economic malaise and favourable weather in South America weighing on the ag complex."

For Chicago soybeans, this meant setting a fresh 13-month low of $11.33 ¾ a bushel in early deals, before recovering some ground to stand at $11.38 ¾ a bushel, down 1.2% on the day.

And no support from


this time, which shed 2.1% to 49.72 cents a pound for December, losing premium over Kuala Lumpur

palm oil

, which dropped 1.2% to 3,133 ringgit a tonne in Kuala Lumpur.

Grain prices dip

In the grains, for Chicago (soft red winter) wheat, it meant shedding 1.2% to $5.87 a bushel for December delivery, without this time the unwinding of the "short Chicago, long Minneapolis" spreads which marked the last session.

The March contract dropped 0.8% to $5.98 ¼ a bushel, after earlier setting a contract low of $5.97 a bushel.

Minneapolis (hard red spring) wheat fell a more modest 0.3% to $8.57 ½ a bushel for December and by 0.2% to $8.36 a bushel for the better-traded March lot.


dropped 0.8% to $5.94 a bushel for December, and by the same to $6.01 a bushel for March.

'The old saying…'

Still, bulls had at least two hopes, the first dredged from history.

"The old saying is that 'if the bears have Thanksgiving, the bulls will have Christmas'," Mike Mawdsley at broker Market 1 said.

"Time will tell, but the bears will certainly have Thanksgiving."

The second was more immediate, in


, which continued its recovery, adding 1.8% to 91.53 cents a pound for December, amid ideas that deliveries may not be so poor after all.

The March lot stood 0.4% higher at 91.49 cents a pound, setting camp in earnest above the technically- important 91.25 cents-a-pound mark.


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