PRINTABLE VERSION   EMAIL TO A FRIEND   RSS FEEDS 21:15 GMT, Friday, 15th Feb 2013, by Agrimoney.com
Evening markets: corn ends losing streak with small rebound

So corn did manage to end its (joint) longest losing streak in 48 years.

Chicago's March contract closed higher for the first time this month, after a 10-day losing run.

But the 0.6% rebound was hardly the "correction" that many investors had been talking about more of an "adjustment" compared with the loss of more than 6% the contract had notched up during its losing streak.

Signally, the rise, to $6.98 a bushel, left the contract below the psychologically important $7-a-bushel mark, giving bears some hope that the session represented just an interruption of the grain's downward progress.

'Major rain event'

And there were some other reasons to downplay the rally, with much talk that it was fuelled by the prospect of a long weekend ahead in the US (where markets are closed on Monday for President's Day), encouraging investors to take profits on short positions.

After all, the downward pressure has come largely from ideas of improved weather in South American, notably rain for Argentina.

"The forecast is for Argentina to receive 70% coverage of 0.5-1.5 inches of rain over the next five days. This is a major rain event," US Commodities said.

But rains can disappoint, and weather forecasts can always change.

Cash market vs futures

Still, it should also be noted that corn's headway looks more impressive when compared with that for other risk assets.

Shares had a soft day, amid reviving concerns over the health of eurozone and UK economies, while the average commodity, as measured by the CRB index, lost 0.4%.

Furthermore, the negative moves in Chicago have not been represented fully in the US cash market, which has shown itself fonder of higher corn prices.

"The cash market for corn continues to be very strong," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

"The story remains the same - when corn slides, the basis simply strengthens.

'Still fundamentally bullish'

Mr Holaday added: "The market is trying to ration domestic supplies. We are headed to a record low March 1 corn stocks number."

And that was a theme taken up too by Rabobank which, with Standard Chartered, forecast brighter times for corn futures than investors are pricing in.

Corn's outlook was "still fundamentally bullish", Rabobank said.

'Very good for wheat'

For fellow grain wheat, supplies are not so tight, a big reason why the grain's premium to corn has narrowed to abnormally low levels.

Still, the grain did its best on Friday to rebuild a premium, adding 1.4% to $7.42 a bushel although in wheat, more than corn, position-covering should be investigated as a rationale, given the hefty short that speculators have in Chicago futures and options.

The grain also has its own weather story going on, in the prospect of rain for dry areas of the Plains, where winter wheat seedlings have been grappling with drought.

"Wheat continues to be pressured by the outlook for moisture in the middle of next week," Mr Hoalday said, noting that latest weather models "added moisture in and moved it further south.

"If this occurs, it would be very good for the hard red winter wheat and some critical grass areas."

'Emerge from the funk'

However, "the problem is that it is still five days out", creating a margin for error.

Furthermore, investors were encouraged into a more positive view of wheat by talk of further US export sales, adding to the upbeat picture painted on Thursday by data showing US export sales of 706,000 tonnes.

"Rumours of US wheat business into China and Brazil have helped the oversold wheat markets emerge from their current funk," Benson Quinn Commodities said.

Whatever, the better US performance helped Paris wheat end higher too, by 0.7% at E244.25 a tonne for March delivery, while London wheat for May gained 1.5% to £206.75 a tonne.

Negative news sidelined

That was more than Chicago soybeans managed, in closing up 0.5% at $14.24 a bushel for March delivery.

Still, even that might be considered a strong performance, given two setbacks the first being the cancellation of a 250,000-tonne export order for US soybeans, for 2012-13.

And this the day after data showed cancellations of some 385,000 tonnes of export orders last week (partly offset by new business).

The performance appears to bear out ideas of US export business hitting a wall as South American supplies come online.

The second setback was US crush data for January which, at 158.195m bushels, were the highest for the month in three years, but below market expectations for a figure some 1.3m tonnes higher.

'Lean towards India'

Among soft commodities, New York arabica coffee failed to find the succour that Chicago corn did, and continued its downward run, closing down 0.4% at 140.20 cents a pound for May delivery, the lowest finish for a nearest-but-one contract since June 2010.

The bean is being sunk by improved ideas on Brazil's crop, following a turn better in the weather.

But New York raw sugar staged a bounce from its own two-year low, adding 0.3% to 18.00 cents a pound for March delivery.

"The news around the market has started to lean towards India and conjecture on revisions of their potential to add to the global surplus," Thomas Kujawa at Sucden Financial said.

In fact, there are concerns that India could be at the start of a downswing in its cycle, as high cane prices and depressed sugar prices squeeze mills, forcing them into cutbacks or payment deferrals.

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