Evening markets: bears win Thanksgiving battle - just
By - Published 21/11/2012

So who will eat at Thanksgiving, and who at Christmas?

After all, if the bears have Thanksgiving dinner, the bulls have a Christmas feast, and vice-versa, the goes the Chicago saying (although it does have many versions).

But neither side looked to have got their teeth into much on Thanksgiving Eve itself, with low pre-holiday trading volumes failing to bring the volatility some had feared.

On the macroeconomic front, concerns about Greece were balanced by news of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, which enabled a more positive tone in financial markets, helping Wall Street shares stand 0.3% higher in late deals.

'Weather is ideal'

And much of the news in grain and oilseed was balanced too.

Take soybeans, which suffered the bear point of rains arriving in Brazil next week, boding well for sowings of the oilseed in areas such as Rio Grande do Sul, where soil is in need of rains, consultancy Somar said.

"Brazil weather is ideal," Richard Feltes at RJ O'Brien said.

However, that is not the case in Argentina "given a reversion to the wet pattern" which has prevented farmers getting onto fields and sowing crops.

"Trade believes Argentina crop production is dropping 3m-5m tonnes," US Commodities said.

'Bright spot'

Furthermore, rumours of China buying soybean cargoes proved true, with the US Department of Agriculture announcing the sale of 120,000 tonnes of the oilseed to the top importing country.

China also bought 20,000 tonnes of soyoil, with 56,000 tonnes of soyoil also going to unknown destinations.

"Exports continue to be the bright spot in the soybean complex. The soyoil exports the past week has given the soybean complex support," US Commodities said, terming the latest exports "all somewhat positive".

In fact, soyoil managed a positive close, up 0.4% at 48.53 cents a pound for December delivery, but soybeans themselves  found headway more difficult, easing 0.3% to $14.08 a bushel for January.

Still, soymeal did a little worse still, dropping 0.4% to $427.90 a short ton, in tune with a recommendation from Societe Generale of the vegetable protein's value being undermined by high inventories.

Ethanol slippage

SocGen was more ambivalent about corn, raising its price forecasts, but to levels in line with the market.

And the grain did little on Wednesday to suggest a higher rating was in order, shedding 0.4% to $7.41 a bushel.

The grain was pressed by ethanol data which while not quite as downbeat as they seemed, in showing a jump in inventories despite lower production and imports - were a touch bearish.

The fall in production part at least was seen as an accurate reflection of the underlying market, and signalled that corn use by bioethanol plants in 2012-13 could fall below the 4.5bn bushels that the USDA is predicting.

'Key technical resistance'

Furthermore, corn fluffed a key technical battle in rising above its 50-day moving average, above which it has not closed in more than two months, only to fall back, depressed by the ethanol data.

"Fund activity will be determined by whether or not the corn market can establish trade above the $7.47-7.48-a-bushel level," Benson Quinn Commodities said.

"Still watching the $7.46-a-bushel level on the December corn. This is key technical resistance," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

Corn got to $7.47 a bushel before its retreat.

'Seemingly bearish development'

It was left to wheat to hold up the end for Chicago bulls, giving them a meagre Thanksgiving dinner of a 0.25-cent rise to $8.45 a bushel for December delivery.

And this was hard fought, given the negative, although one that had been anticipated, of the US failing to pick-up trade in an Iraqi tender, which went to lower-priced Australian, Canadian and Russian supplies instead.

Furthermore, Russia's agriculture ministry raised its estimate for the country's exports of grain, which is mainly wheat, by some 3m-5m tonnes.

That was "a seemingly bearish development that the market is electing to ignore", RJ O'Brien's Mr Feltes said.

Investors were helped in doing so by forecasts for further dry weather in US hard red winter wheat country, boding ill for seedlings already struggling against a lack of moisture.

"The weather outlook continues to support wheat values," Darrell Holaday said, noting "very dry" weather in the run up to the dry outlook.

In Europe, Paris wheat for January edged 0.4% lower to E269.25 a tonne, while London's May contract dropped 0.2% to £220.75 a tonne.

'Thai pricing'

Among soft commodities, New York raw sugar for March closed down 1.3% at 19.64 cents a pound, as the rally earlier in the week encouraged producer selling.

"The chat around the trade seems to be of Thai pricing just above the market, starting around 20 cents a pound, and so it seems there is little enthusiasm for fresh longs around present levels," Thomas Kujawa at broker Sucden Financial said.

That said, SocGen did its bit for sugar bulls, by rating a long bet on the March contract among its top commodities trades, citing "production risks and strong demand in Asia".

Arabica coffee ditched its volatile ways for a close up 0.7% at 153.45 cents a pound for March delivery, as the expiry process began on the December lot.

"After yesterday's big day, today seemed exactly like a first notice day ahead of a [US] holiday, and although New York will reopen Friday, for some their books are closed for the week."

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