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Palm oil and soybeans stay in market spotlight

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Palm oil and soybeans stayed in the spotlight on Wednesday but found applause harder to come by as a struggling oil price tempted investors to book gains from the commodities’ recent runs.

Bursa Malaysia’s benchmark June palm oil contract retreated from a day high of 2,540 ringgit a tonne earlier – its best since early September - to stand at 2,496 ringgit a tonne in late trade, up 11 ringgit on the day.

Traders remained focused on what dwindling Malaysian palm oil stocks meant for supplies, although reports that Pakistan was slowing purchases after a buying spree in the first quarter took some urgency out of the market.

Chinese demand

Soybeans, palm oil’s bullish partner of late, also found progress more difficult. Chicago’s May contract, which spurted 14.5 cents on Tuesday, stood a further 3.25 cents higher at $10.39 1/4 a bushel at 08:30 GMT.

“We have seen soybeans really benefit from demand in China and also ongoing concerns about the size of the South American crop,” Toby Hassall, an analyst with Commodity Warrants Australia, told Reuters.

Chicago corn, however, gave up on its latest attempt to regain $4 a bushel, shedding 2 cents to $3.92 ¼ a bushel.

“In terms of weakness today (in corn), the fact is that oil is trading lower as well as a bit of profit taking,” Mr Hassall added.

Oil volatile

New York crude fell as low as $48.92 a barrel in early deals on figures showing higher US stocks and struggling retail sales, before rebounding 1.6% into positive territory at $50.21 a barrel.

Indeed, it was wheat which began to look in danger of stealing the limelight, adding 5.25 cents to $5.27 1/4/ a bushel, with South Korean purchases of 44,000 tonnes of US wheat massaging sentiment.

Among soft commodities, coffee and sugar traded little changed in early deals, with cocoa stabilising after recent falls. London cocoa for July delivery stood just £1 lower at £1,763 a tonne.

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