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Evening markets: German bond setback leaves crops no chance

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Et tu Germania?

Hours after one of the main hopes for stability, China, wobbled, with a survey showing contraction in its manufacturing sector, another, Germany, was sent reeling by what was billed its worst bond auction of the euro era.

The auction by the eurozone heavyweight raised less than two-thirds of the E6bn targeted, a result interpreted as hurt by fears of the currency's collapse.

And, adding further heat to the region's roasting, data showed eurozone industry in September suffering its biggest one-month fall in orders in almost three years.


This followed on from Tuesday's data showing the US economy growing by only 2% in the July-to-September quarter, below the 2.5% initially reported, and left markets with little choice but to adopt a risk-off pose.

So it wasn't just Thanksgiving turkey which were being stuffed as investors sold up risk assets and headed for the


, which soared 1.1% to its highest since early October, making dollar-denominated assets less appealing to buyers in other currencies.


fell, down 1.7% in late deals in New York, following closes down 1.3% in London, 1.4% in Frankfurt and 1.7% in Paris.

And Brent


dropped 1.5% to $107.34 a barrel.

'Liquidation situation'

So what if oil prices seem to be offering high enough margins for ethanol plants to keep on making the stuff from


at a bumper pace, of 917,000 barrels a day last week, up 1,000 barrels a day week on week?

"Ethanol production last week was record large and the margins are better," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

So what if (in his view at least) "the individual fundamental for corn and


argue for higher prices".

"But the market just continues to punish European sovereign debt. It is still a liquidation situation," he added.

Multi-month lows…

And it was one which, in agricultural commodities, claimed a series of landmarks on Wednesday.

Chicago corn for December didn't by a smidgen close at the lowest for a near-term contract in 11 months, by ending down 1.7% at $5.88 ¾ a bushel.

But soybeans set a fresh 13-month low with gusto by ending down 2.8% at $11.11 ½ a bushel for the January contract.

And Chicago


set its lowest close, for a spot contract, since July 2010 – in the early days of the rally – by finishing down 2.5% at $5.79 ¼ a bushel for December.

The better-traded March lot put up a better fight, shedding 1.5% to $5.94 ¼ a bushel, if still ending at a 16-month closing low for a second-in contract.

And while Paris wheat was more resolute still, falling 1.2% to E179.00, supported somewhat by the falling euro, that was a 16-month low too. London wheat for May fell 1.7% to £144.00 a tonne.

Bargain hunting

And this despite some evidence of bargain hunting by end users too.

"World buyers continue to take advantage of the low prices, with Ethiopia and Israel both buying wheat in the last 24 hours," the UK grain arm of a major commodities house noted.

Algeria bought 200,000 tonnes of durum wheat too.

Israel bought a total of 100,000 tonnes of feed barley, corn and feed wheat.

China buys – non-US

But the origin is believed to have been Ukraine, which may also have sold more corn to South Korea, according to market rumour, US Commodities noted.

And the big buyer, China, appears to have kept its hands in its pockets on this break. Or, at least, kept buying away from the US, and certainly from the Chicago rumour mill.

Indeed, China cancelled 300,000 tonnes of

palm oil

orders, due for delivery early next year, helping the vegetable oil fall 0.3% to 3,161 ringgit a tonne in Kuala Lumpur.

Still, that fall was nothing compared with a 2.9% slump in Chicago


to 49.32 cents a pound. Sure, China has been buying that, but reportedly from South America.

'Hard for the bulls'

The weakness spread to many soft commodities too, with New York raw


ending down 1.5% at a five-month low of 23.09 cents a pound.

"Prices have come under pressure on news yesterday that India has given the go-ahead for 1m tonnes of sugar exports for 2011-12," Sudakshina Unnikrishnan at Barclays Capital said.

Thomas Kujawa at Sucden Financial added that "it seems hard for the bulls out there at the moment as there seems little for them to get a 'story' going as the global supply and demand stats undermine any argument they may put forward as pertinent".

Nor does it help that one analyst has forecast sugar testing support at about 18 cents a pound.

Allenberg buying



, at least, managed some gains, adding 0.8% to 90.71 cents a pound for the expiring December contract, amid evidence that a taker for the fibre was there after all.

"Allenberg owns all the longs in December cotton - they stopped 100% of the delivery notices indicating they have virtually 100% of all the long open interest," Louisiana-based Mike Stevens said.

Still, while there was talk of Chinese buying here, the March lot edged 0.2% lower to 90.91 cents a pound.

Reasons for hope?

It being Thanksgiving on Thursday, would like to offer some hope for those wishing for higher prices, and from two quarters.

The first is the adage that "if the bears have Thanksgiving, the bulls will have Christmas".

(That said, research from Allendale appears to question this, showing corn prices rising seven times, by a mean of 21.8 cents a bushel, and falling eight times – if usually by a modest 6.5 cents - between the two holidays.)

The second is crop price forecasts from a resolutely upbeat Deere & Co, which pegged the average corn price in 2011-12 at $6.40 a bushel, soybean price at $13.00 a bushel, and wheat at $7.40 a bushel.


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