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Morning markets:soy leads as real exports beat rumoured ones

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overlooked in the last session?

After all, the oilseed had some strong and tangible export data for investors to hold on to, rather than the rumours of Chinese buying which sent corn soaring.

Investors in early deals put the oilseed back in its more typical position ahead of grains in Chicago.

'Sales were supportive'

After all, importers are certainly having a decent crack at US soybean supplies, in the face of disappointing South American harvests, with weekly export sales coming in at 1.2m tonnes, 2011-12 and 2012 crop combined.

"Sales of US soybeans were supportive, particularly in the new crop," Australia & New Zealand Bank said.

After all, the 845,000 tonnes sold of soybeans from the next harvest brought the total already to 7.3m tonnes "now well above the previous record reached last year of 6.7m tonnes".

And this before the great majority of the crop has even been planted.

Ahead of target

Not that the 374,000 tonnes of 2011 crop sold was a weak figure either.

It was "well above the 128,000 tonnes a week pace needed to meet the US Department of Agriculture's forecast of 35.1m tonnes" for the full 2011-12 marketing year, ANZ said.

And all this before adding a further 110,000 tonnes of (old crop) soybeans sold to China, reported through the USDA's daily alert system.

May soybeans started off on the front foot, adding 3 cents to $14.18 ¾ a bushel as of 08:45 UK time (02:45 Chicago time) but, with all this new crop demand around, the November contract just had the advantage, adding 3.25 cents to $13.45 ¾ a bushel too.

New crop lags

The November contract had a particular advantage over new crop


, soybeans' main rival in the battle for ground in US farmers' spring sowing plans.

December corn fell 0.5% to $5.39 a bushel, edging the soybean: corn ratio back up to the tipping point of 2.50:1, above which the oilseed is seen holding the advantage over the grain in terms of appeal to farmers.

Indeed, the spreading in corn, in which investors earlier this week sold the May lot in droves to switch to new crop, appeared to be favouring the reverse.

And after all, while weekly US corn export sales were poor, at a little under 300,000 tonnes, new crop trade was particularly dismal, coming at a negative number.

Price drop sufficient?

Chicago's May corn contract managed to cling on to last night's closing level of $6.21 a bushel, with no further evidence emerging overnight of the truth of rumours that China has bought up to 1m tonnes of the grain from the US.

"As of yet there does not appear to have been confirmation from the USDA and or Chinese government of any purchases," Jon Michalscheck at Benson Quinn Commodities said, while adding that the maths did not mitigate against a deal.

"If one would look back to the trading range for old and new crop corn during the April 6-12 time frame, it would make sense that the Chinese or even most importers would not have been interested in corn as the market was beginning to roll over from its late-March highs.

"The price range for the May contract was $6.36 ½ to $6.58 a bushel, and the December contracts range was $5.44 ½ to $5.50 ¾.

"A $0.20-0.35-per-bushel correction, or $8-14 per tonne, may have been enough for some end user demand to have surfaced?"

'Talk about dryness'

There is yet hope for bulls, thanks to a weather threat, that even if China does not emerge as a buyer of corn for now, the country could support corn futures.

"There is also a little talk about dryness developing in north eastern corn-growing areas of China," Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 said.

"That needs to be watched closely."

Still, for now with corn down, wheat, with its far more ample world supplies, had little chance, falling 0.5% to $6.31 ¾ a bushel.

Exports weaken

Despite soybeans' strength,

palm oil

extended its losing streak in Kuala Lumpur, shedding 0.6% to 3,455 ringgit a tonne.

Data from cargo surveyors showed Malaysia's palm oil exports continuing to show a month-on-month decline, if at a slower pace than earlier in April.

Societe Generale de Surveillance pegged the drop at 5.3%, while Intertek Testing Services put it at 5.6%.

'Could be an anchor'

But can Chicago soybeans maintain their advantage, on what is expiry day for March options, seen as potentially giving turbulence to futures contracts?

"May options expire with large open interest remaining at the $14-a-bushel strike level in the puts and calls," Benson Quinn said.

"This could be an anchor on the market."


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