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JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's benchmark white maize futures eased slightly on Thursday on profit taking after a rally the previous day on the back of prolonged, strong export demand saw the contract hit an all-time high.
The most active December white maize futures contract closed 0.52 percent lower at 2,502 rand a tonne, after hitting a record high of 2,528 rand on Wednesday.
"The (prices) have come back to the 2,500 level mainly due to profit taking and also a bit of a pull back in the (United States), but the December contract is still looking strong ... driven by the export orders," Piet Faure, a soft commodities analyst at CJS Securities, said.
Yellow maize for delivery in December was up 0.46 percent to 2,381 rand a tonne.
Africa's largest maize producer harvested its biggest crop in three decades of 12.815 million tonnes in the 2009/10 season and has managed to attract new buyers from outside Africa including South Korea, Japan, Kuwait, Taiwan, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Portugal and Venezuela, which has supported local prices.
But the industry now fears that most of the maize has been committed for exports, leaving the country with less for local consumption.
Maize farmers are expected to cultivate more land in the 2011/12 season hoping to tap into current strong prices.