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AM markets: ag markets seek direction at start of big week

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There is plenty to be looking out for in ag markets this week – some of which has already happened.

There is a plethora of data ahead, with Tuesday to see Malaysia Palm Oil Board statistics on Malaysia

palm oil

production, exports and stocks, while later in the day Brazil's Conab unveils first forecasts for many 2017-18 crops, including

corn

and

soybeans

.

Thursday brings the US Department of Agriculture's Wasde crop report while softs investors have, for instance, some time imminently Unica data on Brazil Centre South

sugar

output to anticipate.

As for what has already happened, there is China's return from a long holiday, and the first trading day on Chinese markets since September 29.

Palm up

That proved positive for

palm oil

, for instance, which added 1.4% to 5,588 yuan a tonne on the Dalian exchange, for January delivery.

Rival vegetable oil

soyoil

was a little less certain, edging 0.8% higher on the Dalian for January to 6,120 yuan a tonne.

Still, with China a big vegetable oil importer, it was supportive for prices in other markets, helping Kuala Lumpur palm oil for December add 1 ringgit to 2,731 ringgit a tonne in Kuala Lumpur as of (09:50 UK time (03:50 Chicago time), looking for a fifth successive winning session.

Less upbeat for palm oil is the prospect of data on Tuesday showing Malaysian stocks topping 2.0m tonnes last month to hit their highest since February last year, helped by a rise in output in September, which typically sees the seasonal peak.

(That said, at 1.84m tonnes, the peak in output is not seen excessively high.)

Soyoil vs soybeans

As for

soyoil

, in Chicago that added 0.3% to 33.06 cents a pound for December delivery, trading back above its 10-day moving average.

But that was not enough to ensure gains for

soybeans

themselves in Chicago, where the November contract stood down 0.1% at $9.71 ½ a bushel.

That echoed the dynamics on the Dalian too, where the January soybean contract eased 0.6% to 3,806 ringgit a tonne, underperforming soyoil.

Chinese import orders?

Sure, Chinese soybean import demand "may pick up" for delivery for the rest of 2017 now that the country is back from holiday, said Terry Reilly at Futures International, adding that "crush rates should increase" too.

Benson Quinn Commodities noted the "long-awaited return of China… promising to bring renewed demand for soybeans".

CHS Hedging said that "expectations are that the world's biggest bean buyer will be back with an appetite as they look to cover needs for the month of November".

But will this demand come?

'The wild card'

Another factor that soybean (and corn) investors are monitoring is the weather in Brazil, where dryness is still raising worries about seedings for harvests early in 2018.

"Brazilian weather is the wild card" this week, Benson Quinn Commodities said.

In fact, there is moisture in the Brazilian forecast, with MDA saying that "rains this week in southern and far north west areas will lead to improvements in soil moisture favouring corn and soybean germination".

However, the forecast is not all upbeat for growers, with the weather service adding that "dryness will build again in north central areas".

Indeed, at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Tobin Gorey took a somewhat more bullish interpretation, sayting that "weather forecasters continue to expect soybean regions in Brazil's Mato Grosso state to see no material gains in soil moisture for another week or so".

(Mato Grosso is Brazil's top producing state.)

Brazilian sowings drop?

Corn

fared better in Chicago, in edging 0.1% higher to $3.50 ¼ a bushel – a small rise, but a significant one in adding a slither of a cushion above the psychologically important $3.50-a-bushel mark.

Dalian corn futures for January actually fell, by 1.2% to 1,672 yuan a tonne.

But there is growing mention of Monsanto's forecast, as reported by Agrimoney.com last week, of a drop in Brazilian corn sowings.

Mike Zuzolo at Global Commodity Analytics, for instance, flagged it, as well as China's move towards a 10% of ethanol blend in gasoline, as supportive of reasoning for US farmers to prioritise storage of corn, in hope of higher prices, than soybeans.

Australian rains

As for

wheat

, it fell by 0.6% to $4.40 ¾ a bushel in Chicago for December delivery, amid ideas of a need to spur exports from the US, and other non-Black Sea origins.

"World wheat values have started to close the gap with Russia as far as competitiveness goes, but most origins are well behind current USDA projections and will eventually need to do some of the business," said Benson Quinn Commodities.

Ideas of an improvement to hopes for the drought-stress Australian crop, thanks to rains, received support with a drop of 1.4% to Aus$276.00 a tonne in Sydney futures for January.

Commodity Weather Group said that in Australia "additional showers" into Monday and later this week "will continue to ease dryness/stress in New South Wales and limit additional yield losses".

'Potentially a problem for quality'

In New York,

cotton

for December eased by 0.4% to 68.60 cents a pound, as markets awaited further information on crop damage from Hurricane Nate, although this seems to have abated significantly, and dodged Georgia, the second-ranked US growing state.

"The storm's wind speeds are not strong enough to cause much crop damage but the resulting rainfall is potentially a problem for crop quality in several regions," CBA's Tobin Gorey said.

By Mike Verdin

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