Macroeconomic concerns eased on Friday, allowing risks
assets, including agricultural commodities, a brighter start.
A return to the pledges that central banks have made to
support the economy appeared to be behind positive closes in shares in Asia-Pacific, of 0.3% in
Tokyo and Sydney, and 0.6% in Seoul, with the better mood allowing a small decline
in the dollar too.
There was also some mention of the one-in-five-year
Communist Party Congress in China, to be held next month (data to be announced)
and which some investors believe may reveal some measures to keep the world's
second largest economy on the growth path.
The better mood eased the pressure of fund liquidations which
have dogged many crops, but particularly soybeans,
And the result was a brighter start, with cotton, for instance, adding 0.5% to 75.61
cents a pound in New York for December as of 09:20 UK time (04:20 New York
time, 03:20 Chicago time).
Raw sugar edged
0.4% higher to 19.28 cents a pound for October delivery, receiving support too
from more measured ideas on the revival in the Brazil Centre South output,
following forecasts of rains which may hamper cane harvesting and a cut by Unica
to its sugar production estimate for 2012-13.
And Chicago crops gained ground too, especially wheat, which, freed of the harvest
pressure which is proving a big burden to corn
and soybean values, added 1.5% to $8.92 ¾ a bushel for Chicago's benchmark
Easing ideas over rain forecast for dryness-hit Western
Australia helped prices.
But so did ideas that this is one crop where the fund net
long position is relatively small, reducing the threat of selling pressure if
At Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Luke Mathews, noting the
grain's "impressive" resilience to sell-offs in the row crops in the last
session, flagged support from "the fact that US wheat is becoming competitive
into Middle East destinations against previously cheap Black Sea supplies".
From a chart perspective, Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 noted
that "wheat remains range bound, like it has been the past few months", inferring
a rise from current levels near the bottom of its trading corridor.
The big question…
But soybeans gained too, although their continued progress
later in the day may depend on the answer to a question that has risen in
importance in investors' minds.
Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities said: "The question for
Friday is, will the US Department of Agriculture report sales to China on this
There have plenty of rumours that China has purchased
two-to-20 cargoes, but no confirmation.
While of course official acknowledgement would not necessarily
underpin values, to go by market's common "buy on rumour, sell on fact"
thinking, the idea of no "fact" at all…
In fact, investors have been impressed by soybeans' broader
export performance, with demand hanging in there despite elevated values.
Weekly data on Thursday meant the US has already sold 75% of
sales forecast for whole of the 2012-13 season, which is still in its infancy,
and acting as some counterweight to continued reports of better-than-expected
US harvest yields.
"There appears to be an easy case to make that export demand
is larger and will cut into any larger production estimate," Ms Rugel said.
"Global ending stocks still appear to be exceptionally tight
till South American harvest in early 2013. Funds are just long on the price side
Mike Mawdsley said: "Export sales were great. But once
again, it is the wrong time of year to rally.
"October," and the release of harvest pressure, "can't get
here soon enough".
Light at the end of the
At RJ O'Brien, Richard Feltes said: "At some point, better-than-expected
soybean yields will become old news and hence sidelined by uncertainty over South
American crop production and extraordinarily tight spring/summer US soy
supplies," tightened by strong export sales.
(Brazil is in the early stages of sowings for a soybean crop
on which there is huge expectation it will fill the void in world supplies when
it is harvested early in 2013.)
"In the meantime, there are still 15 trade days until the
October Wasde crop report during which the massive fund long in November
soybeans must be either rolled or liquidated," Mr Feltes said.
That is, most investors are going to be wanting to shift
exposure to future contracts, to avoid being left in a close-to-expiry contract
with waning trading volumes and, eventually, physical crop implications.
Still, for now, soybeans added 0.8% to $16.31 a bushel for
That was a little better than corn, for which the December contract appreciated by 0.7% to $7.51 ¼
a bushel, even though there is not the same incentive to roll this lot, with an
extra month on the clock.
But then the grain's losses were more limited in the last
"Corn has found pricing support at these levels and harvest
pressure is easing," Benson Quinn Commodities said.
While latest weekly US export sales were poor, at 70,000
tonnes, domestic demand appears to be holding up better, with talk of ethanol
plant reopenings and some reluctance among livestock feeders to liquidate herds
and flocks, although more will be known next week with much-watched US grain
Later on Friday, (not yesterday as we were wrongly informed)
Informa will unveil fresh data on annual US acreage numbers, adjusted for Farm
Service Agency filings which indicate corn and soybean sowings may have been higher
than official data show.
That said, Mr Feltes noted that in the October Wasde report,
"it interesting to note that USDA cut corn harvested area 0.5m acres, and soy
harvested acres by 0.1m acres".