Soybeans stole the limelight again in Chicago on Thursday, making strong headway while grains, and especially wheat, struggled.
It was not the easiest day for commodities, with the CRB index closing down 0.3%, as a poor eurozone purchasing managers' index data clouded over a day which had started brightly, when similar statistics for China beat forecasts.
The eurozone index fell to 46.5 from 47.9 last month, with any figure under 50 indicating contraction.
Furthermore, the US provided some poor corporate results from the likes of Oracle, depressing share markets.
Paris shares closed down 1.4%, with Wall Street stocks off 0.4% in late deals.
'Sales were poor'
Which made soybeans' 2.1% rise to $14.49 a bushel in Chicago for May delivery all the more notable.
And this in the face of weak US export sales data too, coming in at 107,800 tonnes for old crop, down 84% week on week, with the new crop figure, at 234,000 tonnes, not overly generous either.
"Soybeans sales continue to slow. The sales were poor on soybeans," US Commodities said.
Investors had been looking for a figure of 650,000-800,000 tonnes, combined.
Still it is not as if the US needs to sell many soybeans to reach its guidance of 36.6m tonnes (1.345bn bushels) in the year to the end of August, with total exports, shipped and sold ahead, now at 35.6m tonnes, 97% of the total.
And there is the reminder coming up next week of the tightness of supplies, in a US Department of Agriculture stocks report expected to show soybean inventories as of the start of this month well below the figure of 1.374bn bushels a year before.
Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said that exports of 532m bushels over the previous three months, plus a crush number of 403m bushels and residual of 20m bushels, implied a March 1 figure of 1.015bn bushels – a drop of 26% year on year.
Allendale pegged stocks even lower, at 912m bushels.
Furthermore, chart signals played into bulls' hands as well with the May contract on Thursday slicing upwards through its 10-day, 20-day (just), 50-day, 75-day (just), 100-day and 200-day moving averages all in one session - the kind of performance to get fund attention.
'Quite disappointing exports'
Wheat export sales, at 484,500 tonnes, were also on the soft side, although not dismal, down 25% from the average of the four previous weeks.
But the grain does not have the tight supplies to get away with soft shipment data.
Indeed, as Societe Generale noted, the "US wheat export programme has been quite disappointing for most of the current marketing year, and has helped push prices lower than we expected".
Sure, there is demand around, with Iran adding to the countries purchases this week, which also include Algeria, Oman and Tunisia.
But Iran bought from Australia and Germany.
And the US was also shown up again by European Union export data, which showed 538,000 tonnes of export licences this week, taking the tally this season to 14.7m tonnes.
Furthermore, the concerns about cold for the Plains eased a bit, with ideas of snow to blanket many growing areas, besides providing prospective moisture for drought-hit seedlings.
"Significant snow, of four inches plus, is still there for eastern Colorado and Kansas into Missouri," weather service WxRisk.com said.
Furthermore, the GFS model is forecasting rain further out too, in early April.
"This could really improve the wheat condition if it develops after the rainfall expected this weekend," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.
'Supplies will run tight'
Chicago wheat for May closed down 1.0% at $7.28 ¾ a bushel.
In Paris, May wheat closed down 0.7% at E241.50 a tonne, offered some support by the EU export data.
"Concerns regarding old-crop stocks are becoming evident," FCStone's European operations said, noting that "both grain and rapeseed supplies will run tight into the harvest".
Paris rapeseed itself added 0.7% to E473.00 a tonne for May, a third successive session of gains.
'Threat of panic'
As for corn, even if the cold US weather on its way is not bad news for US wheat production hopes, it poses some threat to corn, in potentially hampering sowings, a sensitive market topic.
The cool and wet weather forecast in the Midwest and Plains is starting to get the attention of the corn market," Mr Holaday said.
"Any delays in planting beyond the average planting pace will spark some panic."
Furthermore, selling pressure is proving weak ahead of the March 28 US stocks report, expected to show corn inventories down some 1bn bushels year on year.
International Grains Council estimates on world corn prospects for 2013-14 held data for both bulls, and bears - forecasting a sharp rise in US production this year, for instance, but to a level well below the US Department of Agriculture's estimate.
And while there is talk of measures to ease ethanol production targets, because of slowdown in gasoline usage which has mean that mixing at a 10% blend will not now meet the mandate, corn for May closed up 0.1% at $7.33 a bushel.
It was not a huge rise, but enough to keep the contract ahead of its key moving averages too.
Signally, amid sowing concerns, the new crop December lot outperformed a touch, adding 0.2% to $5.68 ½ a bushel.
Indeed, there are growing ideas that the grain may have a fight on its hands against cotton now too, following a rise of more than 20% in prices of the fibre so far this year from levels which had looked to foster a 30-year low in plantings.
"Fierce competition exists between grain and cotton," US Commodities said, noting the potential appeal for farmers in drought-hit southern areas too.
"It takes about 35 inches of moisture to grow a grain crop and 20 inches of moisture for cotton."
New York cotton for May lost 1.0% to 88.20 cents a pound.
However, New York arabica coffee edged 0.1% higher to 133.75 cents a pound for May delivery, giving hope for bullish assessments from Rabobank and Societe Generale.