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PM markets: 'risk-on rally' touches softs, but eludes grains

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There was reason for investors to be cheerful, after the International Monetary Fund raised its forecast for world growth.

The global economy will expand by 3.6% this year, and by 3.7% in 2018, back to long-term average levels, the fund said, helping Wall Street

shares

nudge higher to fresh record tops, and bring gains for commodities too – as a whole.

The

CRB

commodities index stood up 1.2% in late deals, clawing back just ahead of its 200-day moving average.

"We've got an overall strong market," said Mike Zuzolo at Global Commodity Analystics.

"'Risk-on' is how I would view this current price performance."

'What is even more substantial…'

Mr Zuzolo added that "what is even more substantial is that both China and US growth forecasts were raise.

"This helps the commodity sector in particular with China's increase," the country being a huge buyer of raw materials.

The

dollar

too, typically seen as something of a safe haven, adding to the risk-on sentiment by easing 0.5% against a basket of currencies.

Indeed, that only added to the cause to buy commodities, will dollar-denominated raw materials becoming more affordable to importers as the greenback falls.

Bouncing beans

However, agricultural commodities, particularly grains, struggled to join in the really.

Soft commodities fared relatively well, with

raw sugar

for March gaining 1.6% to 14.22 cents a pound in late deals in New York, gaining strength from industry data showing a large drop in Brazilian Centre South output of the sweetener.

A stronger

real

, which gained 0.4% against the weakening dollar, helped too in boosting the dollar value of Brazilian assets.

New York

cocoa

for December bonded 1.7% to $2,042 a tonne, after its setback in the last session.

Jack Scoville at Price Futures noted that in the last session, "the selling came as spectators sold the market in anticipation of the European grind data that will be released this week", on Wednesday in fact.

"World production ideas remain high."

'Below the low-end of forecasts'

However, on grain markets, Chicago

corn

for December stood down 0.3% at $3.48 ½ a bushel, undermined by soft US export data for last week, at 524,168 tonnes, as drawn from cargo insepctions.

That compares with 853,700 tonnes for the week before, and 1.16m tonnes for the same week last year.

"Corn and

wheat

export inspections came in below the low-end of forecasts," Mr Zuzolo noted, with US wheat shipments last week at 350,632 tonnes, less than half the level of a week before.

There also remain concerns over the potential for an upgrade on Thursday by the US Department of Agriculture, in its monthly Wasde report, to its forecast for the US corn yield this year.

This overshadowed the estimate by Conab of a further drop in Brazilian farmers to sowings of first-crop, to the lowest in at least 13 years, thanks to weak prices.

Tender results

Wheat futures traded lower in Chicago too, by 0.1% to 44.35 ½ a bushel, little helped by results of a tender by Egypt's Gasc authority which showed Russian wheat again the most competitive, and with 170,000 tonnes bought.

The cheapest (and a winning) offer of Russian wheat, at $197.97 a tonne excluding freight from El Wehda, was well below the cheapest offer of Romanian origin, at $203.99 a tonne, with French offered by Casillo at $206.69 a tonne.

Meanwhile, although data on US winter wheat sowings are expected to show plantings at 485 complete, 11 points behind the average according to CHS Hedging, that will be down to rains which have rebuilt soil moisture, and are easing, allowing fieldwork to accelerate.

Paris wheat for December eased 0.6% to settle at E163.00 a tonne, weighed by a firmer euro too, which added 0.5% against the dollar.

'Unlikely to be repeated'

Soybeans

arguably represented bulls' best hope of gains among Chicago majors, thanks in part to decent US exports last week, at 1.48m tonnes, above the 897,017 tonnes the week before.

Furthermore, Conab forecast a drop of nearly 7m tonnes to 107.1m tonnes in Brazilian soybean output in 2017-18, seeing yields return to more normal levels.

"The highly favourable climate conditions that contributed to a record grain output last season are unlikely to be repeated," the bureau said.

And this assumes current dryness does not depress seedings, which are running well behind at the moment.

"Brazilian soybean planting is said to be 6% complete versus 10% last year, with Mato Grosso only 5% planted versus. 17% for same period last year," Benson Quinn Commodities said.

Rally fails

Still, the November contract sagged in midday deals, dropping 0.1% to $9.66 ¼ a bushel, weighed by its Chicago peers, and by a technical setback, after an attempt failed to break above the 200-day moving average, at a little under $9.76 a bushel.

Furthermore, traders expect the USDA on Thursday in the Wasde to raise its forecast for eth US soybean crop, if by a modest 0.1 bushels per acre to 50.0 bushels per acre.

By Mike Verdin

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