March soybeans were down 1/2 cent late in the overnight session. Palm oil futures in Malaysia are closed for the rest of the week, and China futures are also closed for holiday. Outside market forces look slightly negative, with a strong US dollar overnight and continued concerns with violence in Egypt. The market consolidated in a tight range overnight as it attempted to absorb the outlook for better crops in South America that is clashing with an inflationary undertone to agricultural commodity markets and very strong demand from China for soybeans and vegetable oils. The Brazil crushing industry association (ABIOVE) pegged Brazil's crop this season at a record 68.8 million tonnes, which is up from their forecast in January of 67.2 million. Brazil's largest soybean producing state (Mato Grosso), could see a record harvest of 19.2 million tonnes, which is up from a December forecast of 18.8 million tonnes, according to state Agriculture officials. The UN food price index hit a record high in January. This was the seventh straight monthly increase. Cash basis levels are steady with slow transportation for a bulk of the Midwest. The market closed moderately higher on the session yesterday into new contract highs, but the close was off from the early peak. A less peaceful situation in Egypt and news of at least a temporary end to the strike in Argentina helped offset the positive influences of higher vegetable oil prices and a surge in wheat and other agricultural markets. Meal was lower on the Argentina news, but oil was supported by a 2.5% jump in Malaysian palm oil. Argentina officials ordered unions to suspend the strike for 15 days and to negotiate their pay dispute, but there is still some uncertainty over the longer term whether Argentina will be a reliable source. A stronger US dollar emerged with the uncertainties in Egypt, and this helped spark some long liquidation selling. Strong export sales news and a surge higher in palm oil helped to support the market, with March soybeans posting a new contract high of 1452. The USDA announced that exporters sold 440,000 tonnes of US soybeans to China for 2011/12 delivery. Traders see weekly sales totals for the pre-opening release today of around 3.6 million tonnes due to high purchases from China. Last week's total was 940,300 tonnes last week. Iraq is tendering to buy 32,000 tonnes of sunflower oil and India is tendering for 1,500 tonnes of soybeans oil for immediate shipment. Bangladesh is tendering to buy 12,500 tonnes of soybean oil.