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Evening markets: ag futures resist Greece-fuelled sell-off

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Have investors had their fill of selling agricultural commodities for now?

There were plenty of reasons for investors to sell risk assets, with the downbeat reaction to China's move to ease bank lending, and intensifying concerns over Greece's failure to form a government, more than a week after elections, and the risk of it breaking from the eurozone.

"The macro markets remain in the shambles with weakness in the EU resulting from a lack of will to implement austerity measures," Benson Quinn Commodities said.

"This has added resistance to the entire commodity complex and has strengthened the

dollar

."

A firm dollar only lessens the appeal of dollar-denominated commodities, making them less competitive as exports.

Liquidation nearly over?

But many farm commodities resisted the siren call and closed with small gains.

After all, if things do get bad, the Federal Reserve still has some ammunition up its sleeve to protect the US economy, the world's biggest.

"It is possible that significant turmoil from the eurozone situation could bring the US Fed off the bench sooner than previously expected," Dave Hightower at Hightower Report said.

"The Fed made it clear last year that it considered events in the euro to be very important to the US economy."

"We suspect that

copper

,

platinum

,

cattle

and

corn

have already seen 90% of their anticipated liquidation off of macroeconomic events, and that the European Central Bank and the Fed will step up and soothe sentiment when the June S&P contract reaches down to the 1325 level."

Sugar revives

Or, put another way, many farm commodities looked in bargain basement anyway.

Take New York raw

sugar

, which hit a 20-month low of 20.07 cents a pound earlier for the benchmark July contract.

Was that brave when there are ideas that at these levels Brazilian mills will be considering switching to turning cane to ethanol rather than sugar, that some producers have hit their marginal cost of output, and that there is a strong seasonal tendency for uptrends from now on?

The July lot closed at 20.27 cents a pound, up 0.3% on the day.

'Starting to cause some concern'

For corn too, Dave Hightower wasn't the only one questioning whether the market was justified in sending prices of Chicago's benchmark July lot to a 13-month low in the last session, besides the contract low for July

wheat

.

After all, there are some weather jitters popping up, including in the US itself.

"Weather in the US is providing some support in the wheat and corn as there are no signs of an organised [rain] system moving through the Central Plains and Midwest in the next 10 days," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

"That is starting to cause some concern. No problems yet, but markets look out in front and don't' wait for problems. "

'Overly dry'

Benson Quinn said: "At current values, the corn,

soybean

and wheat markets do not have much weather premium in them."

Yet "limited precipitation and warmer temperatures are expected" in the Midwest and southern Plains, parts of which could use moisture to finish the [winter wheat] crop off."

Meanwhile, the Ohio valley suffered "mild flooding", GrainAnalyst trader Matthew Pierce said, terming rains in the northern Plains "a mild concern as planting is delayed".

And this besides fears that "Europe remains overly dry through northern Germany, Poland, Spain, Belarus, Hungary and into Ukraine and Russia.

"The southern regions of Russia have yet to see any break in the above average temps and below average precipitation. Their wheat and maize crops are at risk," Mr Pierce said.

'Reduced stocks'

Besides, broker US Commodities warned, "if we move into an El Nino in the late fall, it will spell dry weather problems for Australia".

Furthermore, "wheat is now on a better foundation as increased feeding has reduced stocks", with the USDA forecasting a significant decline in world inventories in 2012-13, if to still-ample levels.

Chicago wheat for July closed up 0.2% at $5.98 ¼ a bushel, while the Kansas hard red winter wheat lot gained 0.7% to $6.14 ½ a bushel.

Chicago corn for July ended up 0.3% at $5.83 a bushel, while the new crop November lot crawled ,25 cents higher to $5.05 ½ a bushel, after three successive days of decline.

'Bargain buying surfacing'

Soybeans rebounded too, although not by enough to pull them out of the decline which has cost Chicago's July contract more than $1 a bushel this month, fuelled by investors' liquidation of what was a record net long position in futures and options.

"Bargain buying is certainly surfacing and short-covering has been obvious since the opening this morning," Mr Holaday said.

But funds still ended the day sellers of an estimated 9,000 soybean contracts (while closing even on corn and adding 1,000 wheat lots), with industry data, showing processers crushed 131.7m bushels of soybeans in April, down from 140.5m bushels in March, adding an extra reason to sell.

"NOPA crush data came in near the low side of estimates," Benson Quinn said.

The July contract closed down 1.4% at $13.87 a bushel, with the new crop November lot shedding 2.0% to a two-month low of $12.94 ¾ a bushel.

Juice squeezed

Back in New York, arabica

coffee

staged a revival too, gaining 0.5% to 177.95 cents a pound for the benchmark July contract after spending much of the day in negative territory.

And

cotton

nearly made it back to positive ground, closing 0.2% lower at 78.82 cents a pound for July delivery, up nearly 1 cent from its intraday low.

Orange

juice

, however, crumbled more than the average commodity, which lost 1.2% on the day, according to the CRB index.

New York juice for July slumped 4.9% to 116.60 cents a pound, hit by a dearth of weather threats for the crop in Florida, the biggest US citrus-producing state.

By Agrimoney.com

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