Is it time to start hoarding chocolate?
Agricultural commodities, resilient in early deals to falls in other markets, kept their outperformance to the end of the session, even as the lack of progress in resolving the US fiscal crisis kept investors on edge.
What did differ in crop markets by the end of the session was the identity of the strongest contract.
Although wheat, Chicago's favourite, had taken the spotlight early on, it was trounced by the close by a rocketing performance by cocoa, which soared 3.4% in New York to close at $2,699 a tonne for December delivery, the highest finish for a spot contract in 14 months.
In London, December cocoa jumped 3.1% to £1,747 a tonne, the best close for a spot contract in two years.
'Still going to be in deficit'
The catalyst was bullish forecasts from the International Cocoa Organization which, having been caught out in its last estimate of the 2012-13 production deficit of 52,000 tonnes, when other analysts were talking of figures of twice that much or more, cast off such conservatism.
While lifting its forecast for the deficit to 86,000 tonnes, it warned in comments to Reuters that "we are still going to be in a deficit for the next four years, but closer to 50,000 to 60,000 tonnes".
In part, that reflects ideas of rising consumption in Asia, with the ICCO saying it hoped to double China's chocolate consumption of 40 grammes per head.
Many investors are also looking at European cocoa grind data expected this week, apparently on Thursday, to show healthy consumption.
Against that backdrop, the gains in wheat, which closed in Chicago up 1.1% at $6.94 ¾ a bushel, looked relatively mild.
Again, the grain was boosted by talk of poor winter sowings in the former Soviet Union, with Russia's farm ministry confirming SovEcon's ideas last week of mass loss of acreage, and winter grain seedings will come in at 13m hectares, well below the 16m hectares which had been targeted.
As of today, farmers had sown crops over 8.7m hectares, down from 12.8m hectares a year ago.
And this after a disappointing, if hardly dismal, 2013 crop, and when Russia's government is keen to replenish supplies depleted supporting consumers after a drought-hit 2012 harvest.
In the US too, CHS Hedging said that "weekend rains did cause a break in the planting progress" although has been on a par with long-term averages.
More would be known on Monday, were it not for the US Department of Agriculture shutdown (along with the rest of the US government, because of the budget wrangles) which means no weekly Crop Progress report.
One of the dataflows the shutdown has not stopped completely is on US exports, which the government's inspections administration on Monday pegged, as of cargo inspections, at 29.78m bushels for wheat, pretty strong, if below the 32.97m bushels a week before.
The figure includes 6.28m bushels bound for Brazil and 6.66m bushels for China, the two countries in particular whose appetite has underpinned prices.
Still, they are not the only buyers in town, with Algeria, Iraq and Jordan also unveiling wheat tenders on Monday, after a Bangladesh tender released on Sunday, underpinning ideas of demand for wheat, even at prices will above August-September lows.
And technically, the buoyancy in wheat futures continues to gain comment too, although Chicago wheat for December could not close quite above its 200-day moving average on the continuous chart for the first time in eight months.
Kansas City-traded hard red winter wheat for December, which achieved that feat last week, added 0.8% to $7.56 ½ a bushel, the best close for a spot contract since May.
And there is some idea that gains may continue, with Benson Quinn Commodities noting early on that if positive "price action in the wheat markets continues through the session, these markets would be able to regain some of the upward momentum that was lost late last week.
"There is reason to question demand near the highs in the wheat markets, but additional covering" of hedge funds hefty short positions in wheat "is possible if upward momentum continues".
In Paris, wheat for November closed up 0.9% at E196.25 a tonne.
Wheat's gains were actually not quite enough to outperform corn, which got support from the already-high discount to wheat, besides some fundamental boosts – notably from rain delays to the US harvest.
"Weekend rains sidelined farmers from making any harvest progress. Some areas even saw some snowflakes fall," CHS Hedging said.
Darrell Holaday at Country Futures termed the weather "somewhat supportive as it has limited harvest over the weekend", adding that the GFS weather model had introduced "scattered rain this weekend", and a "more organised system by the early next week".
The rains in the former Soviet Union, in limiting harvest progress and hampering logistics in Ukraine, are seen as supportive for corn too, as well as wheat.
'Producers are not selling'
Furthermore, "another support factor", for now at least, "is the fact that producers are not selling their corn and soybeans and are opting to put it in storage", meaning it is not yet weighing directly on prices, Mr Holaday said.
US weekly exports were not too bad either, at 25.27m bushels, up from 21.91m bushels the week before.
And there is an idea that the uncertainty caused by a lack of data - with the USDA revealing it will not now release the much-watched Wasde report on Friday, and with no fresh date in the calendar – is prompting investors to quit.
For corn, closing positions means upward support, given the record net short that hedge funds had in the Chicago futures and options, according to the latest data, albeit data which are now two weeks out of date.
Corn even received some not-so-bearish comment too from Macquarie, at least looking further ahead.
Corn for December closed up 1.4% at $4.49 ¼ a bushel.
Soybeans lagged the grains, adding only 0.1% to $12.96 ½ a bushel in Chicago for November delivery, sapped by ideas of some rains for Brazil, where dryness has slowed plantings.
Mato Grosso, Brazil's top soybean-growing state, received rains over the weekend, and should be favoured, with Goias and Minas Gerais by further rainfall "though Friday", US-based weather service MDA said, talking of amounts of up to 2 inches.
That offset some encouraging US export data, with cargo inspections at 30.55m bushels, up from 14.28m bushels the week before, and a reflection of the spreading harvest.
Also weighing was the idea of position closing which, given hedge funds are long in soybeans, means downward pressure on prices.
Back among soft commodities, raw sugar added 0.6% to 18.59 cents a pound, the best close since March, helped by upbeat comment from Macquarie, which forecast a return in prices to 22 cents a pound next year.
Not that Commerzbank was so upbeat, saying that "we see little scope left now for price gains" after their run-up, fuelled by concerns of wet weather slowing the Brazilian cane harvest.
However, arabica coffee, over which Macquarie was considerably less upbeat, for December added just 0.10 cents in New York to 114.50 cents a pound, in line with a little strength in the Brazilian real.
A stronger real boosts the value, in dollar terms, of Brazilian assets, which in effect include arabica beans given that it is by far the biggest producer.