It was hardly a banner day for risk assets, as concerns over a clampdown on China's property market boom spooked investors.
Chinese interbank lending rates rose sharply as the country's central bank withheld liquidity for a second day, in a move seen by many as an attempt to quell lending amid signs of property market overheating.
And, in the US, Caterpillar gave bears a further fillip by cutting its full-year earnings outlook, blaming a slowdown in mining activity.
Shares eased on both sides of the Atlantic, while commodities, for which China as a huge user is a sensitive topic, fell 1.1%, as measured by the CRB index.
Soft commodities did their share to bring the index down, with cocoa falling 2.0% to $2,714 a tonne in New York, for December delivery, in a sell-off fuelled by technical considerations, after a slowdown in the contract's climb rate in the past few sessions.
"There could be a slight correction in prices," Joyce Liu at Phillip Futures said early in the day, saying that analysis of the moving average convergence/divergence, "suggested loss in upward momentum".
What little fundamental news that emerged was in fact bullish, with arrivals of cocoa in Brazil coming in at 55,822 60-kilogramme bags in the latest week, down from 73,111 bags a year before.
Volumes for the season so far, which begins in May in Brazil, are down 37% year on year at 1.08m bags.
Raw sugar for March dropped 0.9% to 19.28 cents a pound, as Copersucar eased some of the concerns over the impact to its export capability from last week's blaze at its Santos terminal, saying that "shiploaders and loading equipment are unharmed".
'Impressed by exports'
However, in Chicago, grains and oilseeds did better, amid continued ideas that backlogged US export sales data, delayed by the Washington shutdown will, when they emerge – a process which will take until the end of the month – will show strong volumes.
"Markets are impressed by the amount of export business taking place," Linn Group's Roy Huckabay told Agrimoney.com.
"The lack of transparency we had because of the government shutdown led to fears of export business going on we did not know about on a daily basis."
Certainly, the strong run of soybean export business declared through the US Department of Agriculture's daily alerts system, since it was restarted last week, continued with the sale of 120,000 tonnes of soybeans to Russia.
For wheat, CHS Hedging noted that "export basis levels have a firmer tone, suggesting additional export business. The weaker dollar is helping".
However, it was corn which fared best, in part on its own export prospects, given the increasing competitiveness of US supplies compared with those of rivals such as Ukraine, where a late harvest has upheld prices.
"Corn values in Brazil and the Ukraine for early 2014 are now in line with US values," US Commodities said.
"This is a huge difference compared with the summer, when they were $0.40-0.60 a bushel under US values."
'Big round of buying'
Benson Quinn Commodities said: "The disadvantage the US corn market has experienced on the global market has narrowed considerably," adding that the US harvest "remains slow and producer selling is light".
Indeed, domestic factors too played a role in the close of December corn up 0.9% at $4.42 ¼ a bushel, with relatively slow selling of the harvest supporting prices, when demand for the grain from ethanol plants is soaring.
Weekly ethanol data showed US biofuel plants produced 897,000 barrels a day of ethanol last week, up 28,000 barrels a day, and the highest number since June 2012, a dynamic supported by healthy demand for the distillers grains also produced.
"The ethanol number prompted a big round of buying in corn," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.
Wheat nudges higher
Corn's performance allowed it to close some of its discount to wheat, which rose a more modest 0.2% to $7.01 ¾ a bushel in Chicago for December delivery.
Sure, worries are still alive about dryness in Argentina, where US Commodities said that the "10-day forecast in Argentina is still drier than you would like", while Australian concerns revived too with a Commonwealth Bank of Australia crop downgrade.
Furthermore, worries about cancelled Black Sea seedings remain, although Lanworth eased some of the concerns over the latest harvest by nudging its forecast higher to 51.0m tonnes.
"Harvest progress reports from Russia's Ministry of Agriculture imply final production near estimates from Sovecon and Ikar," Lanworth said.
There is some talk that investors are awaiting more definite signs of demand at current levels before being willing to chase the market higher still.
In Europe, Paris wheat did better, adding 1.2% to E207.50 a tonne, but London wheat lagged, closing up 0.9% at £166.00 a tonne, amid ideas of huge UK sowings for the 2014 harvest.
With more concrete evidence of US soybean export sales, the oilseed added 0.6% to $13.10 a bushel in Chicago for November delivery, at one point re-engaging with its 50-day moving average, the only one of the major lines it remains below.
Demand ideas are being underpinned by strong prices for soymeal, which closed up 1.3% at $421.40 "a short ton for December delivery.
"The soybeans market is gaining support from firm global and domestic cash markets for soybeans and soymeal," Benson Quinn Commodities said.
And this at a time when supplies are not so generous.
"The on again, off again pace of soybean harvest and limited interest from the producer to sell soybeans has resulted in a struggle to fill a soybean pipeline that needs supply," Benson Quinn said.
Furthermore, there was, at last, some less upbeat talk about US yields.
"There is more talk that yields on some of the later crop do not match the yields experienced on the early harvest," the broker said.