For one agricultural commodity, anyway, the coincidence of
holidays in many of food and farming's major powers, such as Brazil and China, provided
That was sugar.
The absence of Brazilian producers, sidelined from selling by carnival
celebrations, was seen as behind a rise of 1.7% to 18.44 cents a pound in New
York raw sugar futures, for March delivery, their first rise in six sessions.
This pulled the sweetener back above their lowest close
since August 2010, on a spot contract basis.
'Overdue for a pullback'
Other agricultural commodity markets found headway harder,
even New York arabica coffee, for which
Brazilian selling has been seen as a major negative too.
Still, there was some optimism over prospects, even at the
close, when Sucden Financial forecast that arabica futures were "probably
overdue for a pullback".
"One would imagine that roasters would be happy to step in
and begin to buy at these prices. So while the 142.60-cents a pound support
[for the May lot] remains we could be in for a move up in the near future," the
The May contract, the best-traded by a small margin, actually
closed down 0.6% at 141.05 cents a pound.
'Harvesting to step
But in Chicago, holidays only emboldened sellers, with China's
lunar new year holiday week, celebrated in some other countries too, keeping at
bay a major buyer of the likes of soybeans.
And bears had other reasons too to assume the advantage, such
as Goldman Sachs downgrading forecasts for prices of corn, soybeans and wheat.
The US Department of Agriculture, in preliminary estimates, forecast significant rebuilds in US corn and soybean stocks in 2013-14, backed by better yields, rather than higher sowings.
Weather is improving for soybeans, and corn, in South
In central Brazil, overabundant rains - which continued over
the weekend in the likes of Mato Grosso, sapping progress of the early harvest –
"should ease a bit in northern areas, allowing harvesting there to finally
increase a bit", weather service MDA said.
In southern Brazil, where too little moisture has been the
problem, "rains are expected to build across south central areas this week,
which should improve moisture for late soybean growth especially in Parana,
Santa Catarina, and Rio Grande do Sul", MDA said.
Meanwhile, Argentina received bigger-than-expected rains
over the weekend.
And more is on its way, with weather models turning wetter
in their outlooks, if by differing degrees.
"The European model continues to bring significant rain with
excellent coverage to much of central, eastern, northern Argentina in the
six-to-10 day period," weather service WxRisk.com said.
"The GFS model has some rain in these areas but not nearly
as much and with less coverage."
'Fearful of export
On the markets, Country Futures' Darrell Holaday noted that "a
little unexpected rain in the Argentine production areas over the weekend seemed
to set the overall tone with a lower market overnight".
And, as a further pressure on soybeans, weekly export data
for the oilseed came in weaker, at 30.1m bushels, down from 55.9m bushels the
week before, and 39.1m bushels a year before.
"The trade is fearful of continued export competition from
South America on both soybeans and corn," broker US Commodities said.
"Ending stocks on US soybean and corn stocks remain
historically tight. The trade, however, is looking past this for now and
confident the competition will plug this void."
Then there were technical factors to bring in, such as
soybeans' fall in two sessions from above all their major moving averages to
Chicago's March soybean lot closed down 1.4% at $14.31 ½ a
Chicago corn felt
many of the same pressures, and ended up, for March delivery, closing below its
200-day moving average for only the second time since June.
In its favour nonetheless was some recovery in US exports,
as measured by cargo inspections, coming in at 14.5m bushels, more than twice
the level of the week before (if half the shipments in the same week of 2012).
In fact, the Chicago corn market "is going to have lean on
domestic demand as only incremental up ticks in global demand for US corn are
expected on the lower prices", Benson Quinn Commodities said.
"The possibility of ethanol plants coming back on line due
to better profit margins is a positive for the corn market longer term."
Corn fell, but not as far as soybeans, dropping 0.9% to $7.02
¼ a bushel, and for now holding on to the psychologically important $7-a-bushl
'Virtually a joke'
In fact, in losses, it was also far eclipsed by wheat, which in Chicago tumbled to its
weakest close since June last year, falling 2.0% to $7.41 ½ a bushel for March delivery.
The decline was blamed not only on broader selling, but on
the rains which are easing some concerns over drought-hit areas, where wheat
seedlings are struggling, and with more precipitation forecast.
OK, not all observers were convinced about the weekend
"The storm system that moved through the hard red winter
wheat area over the weekend was virtually a joke compared to what the model
projections were showing early last week," Country Futures' Darrell Holaday
But there is "another upper level system that may bring some
snow to southern Kansas and Oklahoma tonight or early tomorrow. That is
resulting in some price pressure in wheat".
MDA said that "rains favoured eastern Kansas, central and
eastern Oklahoma, and east central Texas this past weekend, with snow noted in
western Nebraska and north eastern Colorado".
"The upturn in snow across south western areas Tuesday will
help improve soil moisture a bit once it melts," the weather service said,
adding that the outlook for next week was a little wetter too.
Furthermore, analysis group Ikar downplayed ideas of huge Russian wheat imports, which have been murmured by some traders.
London wheat for May also fell, by 0.6% to £207.75 a tonne,
but Paris wheat for March gained some support from position closing ahead of
its expiry to end up 0.2% at E246.50 a tonne.
The May lot dropped by 0.4% to E240.50 a tonne.