March soybeans were down 2 cents late in the overnight session. Palm oil futures in Malaysia were up 0.5% overnight, and China soybean futures closed near unchanged. Outside market forces were quiet and mixed overnight with a slightly lower US dollar and some further weakness in metal markets. South America weather appears to be a bearish force, but continued uncertainty stemming from world protests over food inflation and striking port workers in Argentina are factors which have provided underlying support. March soybeans have remained in a mostly choppy and consolidation trade since late December, while new crop November soybeans have remained is a steady uptrend with highs on January 24th. China demand has been a strong foundation of support, and there are some traders who see a slowdown in demand from China over the near term. More rain is developing into the weekend for key growing areas of Argentina, and it is expected to continue into next week. Heavy rains are also hitting Malaysia, and this has traders somewhat concerned over slower production of palm oil. Trade was quiet in China, as traders were expecting the market to slow down for the Lunar New Year, which will close down the exchange for February 2nd through the 8th. Traders also suspect that soybean imports may slow for this time period. The strong demand base of better than expected crush and export numbers yesterday plus some increased concerns that the port workers' strike in Argentina could drag on and disrupt the soybean crush activity and eventually new crop grain shipments helped support the market yesterday, led by the nearby contracts. A continued improvement in the weather outlook for South America into next week, forecasts calling for record soybean production in Brazil and long liquidation selling from speculators did help to push the market lower early, but buying emerged on the setback to support a strong close. While corn and wheat remained under pressure into the mid-session, the soybean market bounced to higher on the day, with soybean oil also pushing higher. Solid export sales news and news that the Census crush in December was higher than expected helped support ideas that soybean demand is still strong. In addition, traders see soybeans as undervalued compared with corn and a need for a correction in the relationship in order to secure enough plantings this spring to avoid further tightness next year. December soybeans crushed came in at 153.05 million bushels, which was about 1 million above trade expectations. Weekly export sales for soybeans came in at 780,900 metric tonnes for the current marketing year and 159,400 for the next marketing year for a total of 940,300. Sales of 185,000 metric tonnes are needed each week to reach the USDA forecast for the 2010/11 season. Meal sales were well below expectations. Oil sales were 13,100 tonnes, which pushed cumulative sales to 85.3% of the USDA forecast for 2010/11 marketing year versus a 5 year average of 37.8%.
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