It was groundhog day on grain markets, to the benefit of investors betting on higher corn and wheat prices.
The repeat-of-Wednesday theme did not spread through all markets, with Wall Street shares and the dollar notching up small gains, and some soft commodities reversing.
But for wheat, it brought a fourth successive positive close, up 1.2% at $6.78 ¼ a bushel in Chicago for December delivery, taking gains this week to 5.0%.
And that, as in the last session, gave corn a tug too.
'Wheat maybe the sleeper'
"Traders are dealing with good harvest weather, a crop report and Washington politics," Paul Georgy at broker Allendale said.
The last of those, the fears of a political stand-off over the US budget, continued in the background in all market, but it was the prospect of a crop report, the US Department of Agriculture's quarterly crop stocks reports due on Monday, that did most for wheat.
"Traders are concerned about the tight stocks for soybeans. However, wheat maybe the sleeper," Mr Georgy said.
Certainly, history suggests there is a greater chance of a price positive surprise for the grain than the oilseed.
Richard Feltes at RJ O'Brien said: "The trade is mindful that end-of-September soybean stocks exceeded the average trade guess in four of last six years, including a 38m-bushel underestimating of September 2012 US soy stocks."
Ahead of target
Furthermore, if a bull market requires feeding, as investors say, the day did bring some sustenance in the form of US export sales data which. at 620,000 tonnes, were strong, if in line with estimates.
"Wheat exports continue to be strong," CHS Hedging said, adding that they "only need to average between 300,000-320,000 tonnes" to achieve the full 2013-14 number forecast by the US Department of Agriculture.
Mr Feltes said: "The US has already sold 59% of the 2013-14 export forecast only 3.5 months into the marketing year."
Brazil and China were among the top buyers, concurring with market rumour that these countries, which have suffered setbacks to domestic crops, are in buying mode.
Morocco unveiled a tender for 373,000 tonnes of US soft wheat and 400,000 tonnes of European Union soft wheat too
Not that all the news was upbeat, with the International Grains Council raising its estimate for world wheat stocks at the close of 2013-14.
And some foresee the hand of technicals a little too strongly in wheat's uptick, questioning whether fundamentals a really strong enough to support values.
"Technical market analysis suggests that the market has been at the support level at the bottom of the range so any mildly friendly news has allowed it to bounce off," traders at a major European commodities house said.
"It is, however, still difficult to argue for a sustained rally from here without a development of a weather story somewhere."
US vs EU
Still, Chicago's December contract indeed continued to chalk up chart victories, setting its highest intraday level in two months, of $6.79 a bushel, exceeding by more than 2 cents an August top which had looked a chart barrier.
For a spot contract, the lot closed at the highest in three months.
But while wheat rose in Europe too, its rise was notably less strong, with Paris wheat adding 0.3% to E191.25 a tonne for November, feeling pressure from EU weekly export data of 436,000 tonnes which, while hardly disastrous, are lower than recent figures which have stretched above 700,000 tonnes.
London wheat for November edged 0.1% higher to £156.00 a tonne, with a strong yield estimate from the NFU weighing on values.
'Trade is sceptical'
Wheat's rise continued to help corn, which even after closing up 0.5% at $4.56 ¾ a bushel for December delivery saw its discount to its fellow grain rise above $2.20 a bushel.
Indeed, corn continued "to feel pressure from new crop yield numbers", which have remained better than expected, CHS Hedging noted.
At Country Futures, Darrell Holaday said: "Harvest pressure is capping any of the rallies in the corn and soybean markets as the Corn Belt will likely be cutting through midday Saturday and will likely be back at it by Tuesday of next week."
And the IGC trimmed its estimate for Chinese corn imports, a sensitive number, although it did offer something for bulls too in cutting its forecast for world stocks of the grain at the close of 2013-14.
Still, US weekly export sales, at 640,000 tonnes, were strong, at the top end of market forecasts, although CHS Hedging noted that the "trade is sceptical that corn can continue to gain interest from export markets".
'One step forward, one step back'
As in the last session, soybeans underperformed, and this time despite US weekly export sales of 2.81m tonnes.
That was decent, even if taking out 1.9m tonnes of sales to China announced last week.
"The soybean market remains in a one step forward, one step back pattern on the cusp of harvest," Benson Quinn Commodities said.
Besides, US basis levels "continue to plunge lower" under harvest pressure, US Commodities said, noting that "soybean basis levels were off $0.20-0.40 a bushel yesterday."
And Argentina, where dryness has been slowing soybean sowings, is due for rain too.
"It appears the rain pattern is more favourable for central and southern Argentina this weekend and next week," US Commodities said, noting that "a more normal South American rainfall pattern is expected into mid-October".
Soybeans for November ease 0.3% to $13.16 ¾ a bushel.
Among soft commodities, raw sugar struggled to maintain its rally, setting a four-month high of 17.67 cents a pound in New York for October delivery, only to end at 17.51 cents a pound, down 0.6% on the day.
In part, there is some idea that hedge funds have built up a sizeable net long in the sweetener which, in representing unfulfilled selling pressure, could weigh on values.
"The Commitment of Traders report should show a substantial increase in the speculative net long position up to Tuesday, considering the gains the market has made," Sucden Financial said.
However, the broker also flagged the prospect on Monday of the expiry of the October lot, and the potential for surprises it could bring.
"The Commitment of Traders report may take a back seat."