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Evening markets: US jitters sink many markets, but not crops

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Who says farm commodities all move in line with other risk assets?

It was a poor day for the likes of shares, as the stand-off by American politicians over sorting out the country's budget dragged on for another day, ever nearer the August 2 deadline when, without a resolution, default will ensue.

London stocks closed down 1.2%, with Wall Street shares notching up similar losses in late deals, (despite better-than-expected results from Dow Chemical, helped by soaring seed and agrichemical sales).

And the

dollar

did one of its perverse jumps despite the threat to the US, trading on its status as a safe haven to jump 0.9% against a basket of currencies.

That was another black mark against dollar-denominated assets such as commodities, making them more expensive to buyers in other currencies.

'Scared of more bad news'

But while

oil

sold off, with West Texas Intermediate crude tumbling more than 2%, many farm commodities found enough to distract investors from selling.

For

sugar

, it was the poor prospects for output from the world's top producer, Brazil, which trimmed sellers' sails.

"Bears are scared of more bad news from Brazil," Thomas Kujawa, at Sucden Financial, said while adding that with bullish investors concerned about better northern hemisphere beet crops, neither side was sticking their neck out too far.

New York's October raw sugar contract closed up 0.6% at 31.20 cents a pound.

Also in New York,

cotton

found a late flourish to end up 2.8% at 103.61 cents a pound for the best-traded December contract, helped by growing – but not unanimous – thinking among analysts that the correction has gone far enough for now.

Rain - but when?

And many Chicago crops, in the end, found enough too to convince investors to hang on.

For

corn

, there was the inevitable watch on the weather forecast which, in line with recent trend, proved something of a mixed bag.

"Forecasts are hinting at additional rain in the northern Plains over the course of the next week, but the areas that need rain are not expected until mid next week," Benson Quinn Commodities said.

"It seems the weather forecasts are going to have to shift one way or the other to bring about price movement outside of the current range."

'New heat dome'

Jerry Stowell at Country Futures echoed the thought saying that "traders still seem reluctant to sell the forecast as the far southern areas of the Corn Belt continue to look hot and dry".

Indeed, weather service WxRisk.com restated that it foresaw "new heat dome which brings mid and upper 90s [Fahrenheit] temperatures to the upper Plains and low-to-mid 90s to the western Corn Belt on July 31 to August 1-2", even if there are showers around before and after.

And this before factoring in the growing chatter about what downgrade the US Department of Agriculture will make to corn yields at its next Wasde report, due on August 11. Agrimoney.com has heard of estimates from 151 bushels per acre to 162 bushels per acre, compared with a current USDA figure of 158.7 bushels per acre.

US ethanol data on Wednesday were decent too (and why not when prices are near a five-year high), showing 874,000 barrels produced a day in the week to July 22, up 1,000 on the week before, meaning more corn use to make the biofuel.

Corn for December closed up 0.7% at $6.91 ½ a bushel.

Crop tour

That was one boost for fellow grain

wheat

, but so were the growing concerns about Europe's crop, on quality grounds at least, following rains which have raised a question mark over Ukraine's output too.

And this when the Wheat Quality Council tour of US spring wheat has, so far, come up with disappointing results, with a yield figure of 39.5 bushels per acre from the first day, compared with 43.1 bushels per acre a year ago.

"Expect the tour to see varying results on the fields scouted today also," Benson Quinn said.

Chicago wheat for September gained 1.6% to close at $7.04 ¾ a bushel – only the second close above $7 a bushel, for a near-term lot, in the past month.

And European contracts were stronger too, underpinned both by crop uncertainty and weaker currencies. Paris wheat for November closed up 0.9% at E190.00 a tonne and London wheat for the same month up 0.6% at £163.50 a tonne.

'Weather improved'

Soybeans

, however, faded, with no more on any uptick in Chinese imports, and its own weather threat month, August, still a while away and not looking too dangerous at the moment.

"August weather is key [for soybeans]," US Commodities said.

"If you lose one bushel per acre it is a big deal. But the August weather looks improved this morning."

Chicago soybeans for November closed down 0.6% at $13.80 ½ a bushel.

By Agrimoney.com

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