investors had something to celebrate as 2013 nears a close.
Tokyo's Nikkei share index rose 0.7% on its last trading
session of the year to close at its highest level in six years, helped by
weakness in the yen, which boosts prospects for Japan's important export sector.
However, for agricultural commodity investors, it was those
with short positions who were more comfortable, as rains eased concerns over
dryness and hot weather in Argentina, a major producer and exporter of corn and soybeans.
Crop conditions are now improving in Argentina, as well as
Brazil, MDA said, noting showers in northern and central Cordoba, southern Santiago
del Estero, northern La Pampa, Entre Rios, central and southern Santa Fe.
"Amounts were 0.25-1.0 inches, locally up to 2.5 inches with
40% coverage of corn/soybean crops," the US-based weather service said.
"Cooler temperatures and rainfall this week will help
improve crop conditions," although "some dryness is likely to continue in
central and southern Buenos Aires".
WxRisk.com noted that temperatures hit 108 degrees
Fahrenheit (41 Celsius) in some areas on Saturday, and 95 degrees Fahrenheit in
However, "there were several areas of significant rains and
thunderstorms Saturday night into Sunday", of 0.5-2.0 inches, the weather
And as for the outlook, "the weather models are in pretty
good agreement that over the next five days there will be significant showers
and thunderstorms over all of central and northern Argentina".
South American weather concern is not the only card that
bulls have been playing with, for instance, weekly US export sales data released
on Friday coming in at higher than expected levels for soybeans, wheat and, especially, corn.
Corn sales came in at 1.48m tonnes for 2013-14 and 509,000
tonnes for next season.
But it has been an important factor, and the idea of
improved growing conditions sent Chicago soybeans for March down 0.4% to $13.08
a bushel as of 08:20 UK time (02:20 Chicago time).
A drop in Dalian soybean prices overnight by 1.5% to 4,412
yuan a tonne was of little help, signalling potentially negative implications
from talk of reforms to Chinese agriculture policy.
CHS Hedging flagged reports of China "instituting direct
payments to farmers versus the previous practice of stockpiling grains.
"Stay tuned to this one," the broker advised.
Chicago corn for March was 0.4% lower at $4.26 a bushel.
Rain was a, more bullish factor, in the palm oil market, where ideas of heavy storms in Sarawak helped the
benchmark March contract added 0.3% to 2,639 ringgit a tonne.
Malaysia's Meteorological Department has issued "orange"
and "yellow" stage alerts over parts of Sarawak, responsible for more
than 15% of domestic palm production, cautioning that heavy rains could cause
Palm oil prices have also been taking solace in a weakening ringgit,
which has boosted the competitiveness of Malaysia's exports, although the
exchange rate appears to have stabilised for now at about 3.29 ringgit to $1.
'Snow cover continues
Back in Chicago, there are some concerns emerging among
wheat investors over Russian weather, and a thinning snow blanket which could
leave seedlings vulnerable to winterkill.
"Snow cover continues to decrease across southern and western
wheat areas," MDA said.
Broker CHS Hedging said: "Former Soviet Union wheat weather
has crawled onto some folk's weather radars. Stay tuned."
However, such concerns were not sufficient to prevent wheat
for March shedding 0.3% to $6.07 a bushel, if staying well above Thursday's 19-month
low of $6.00 ¾ a bushel.