Heading into the last chapter of Chicago's trading day,
month and quarter, it was actually soybeans
which were faring best of the big-three crops.
That was a surprise to some, after a batch of long-awaited data
which were seen as potentially a touch price-negative for the oilseed, with the
US Department of Agriculture pegging inventories as of June 1 a touch above
market expectations, and seeing sowings, at 76.08m acres, well above.
"The data was slightly bearish for soybeans," Rabobank said.
And after all, Societe Generale raised its forecasts for corn prices (to $7.00 a bushel from
$6.20 a bushel for the July-to-September quarter) and wheat prices (to $7.87 a bushel from $7.25 a bushel), citing the
prospect of weather damage.
(The bank cut its corn yield estimate by 6 bushels an acre
to 155.4 bushels an acre.)
But it left "intact" its forecast for soybean prices.
'The big story'
Still, soybeans have not been "getting the attention they
deserve", said Sal Gilbertie, president of Teucrium Trading, an issuer of
commodity-based exchange traded funds.
Friday's data, while showing soybean stocks at the start of
this month of 667m bushels, were hardly ample, heading into a period when demand
for US supplies was being whetted by the lack of alternatives, following poor
South American harvests.
"Disappearance was massive," already in the latest quarter,
at more than 700m bushels.
"Soybeans are the big story," Mr Gilbertie told
Agrimoney.com, forecasting that the oilseed's price was set for gains against
corn – barring a real disaster in the grain.
'Few surprises remain'
And investors did not seem so keen to keep their bets on
that, preferring to take profits ahead of a weekend, and two days' without the
ability to trade at a time when any weather forecast can make a difference.
"Few surprises remain" to keep corn's rally bubbling over,
US Commodities said, adding that "July 4 is a dangerous weather pattern period.
Often patterns change".
After all, investors are already factoring in a yield of "low
150s" bushels an acre, below the official USDA estimate of 166 bushels an acre,
Mr Gilbertie said.
As an extra reason to take profits, it is the end of the
month, and quarter, a period when by repute funds close off positions to raise
money for the likes of paying clients, and to tidy up books.
And there are profits to take, with Chicago's December lot up more than 14% this week.
December corn, after an initial plunge, then spurt, as
investors assessed the data and factored in weather forecasts, fell back to
stand 0.4% higher at $6.34 ½ a bushel at 12:20 Chicago time (18:20 UK time).
That was well behind soybeans, which added 1.6% for November
to $14.25 ½ a bushel, if also some way below an early peak of $14.36 a bushel.
Wheat was in between, gaining 0.8% to $7.51 ¾ a bushel for September
delivery, as inventory and sowings data balanced each other out.
"Conflicting old crop stocks and acreage reports provided a
neutral signal to wheat markets, with the surprises small enough to let traders
keep their focus on the US and Russian droughts," Rabobank said.
In Europe, London wheat for November closed up 0.3% at
£171.00 a tonne, but its Paris peer, facing the headwind of a soaring euro as a
European Union summit did more for the eurozone debt crisis than had been expected,
dropped 1.1% to finish at E226.75 a tonne.
Back in the US, cotton
for December added 1.4% to 70.46 cents a pound in late deals, helped by US
sowings data which, at 12.64m acres, were a little below market expectations,
and concerns over the impact of drought here too.
And New York coffee
did better, adding 4.4% to 163.05 cents a pound for September delivery, after
International Coffee Organization data showed an upturn in world trade.
World coffee exports rose 0.5%, year on year, to 9.38m bags
in May, contrasting with the average decline of 2.3% so far in 2011-12.