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Evening markets: ag prices feed on weather, real, US holiday

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Agricultural commodity bulls had weather, the


and US Memorial Day to thank for an upbeat end to a difficult week.

The prospect of a three-day weekend in the US - with Monday the Memorial Day holiday, (noted particularly in meat markets, as the beginning of the barbecue season) - put the brakes on the wave of selling which has sent many agricultural commodities to multi-month lows this week.

This was especially so when weather is becoming such an important factor, especially in grain markets, with any change in the outlook over the weekend, or a failure to meet forecasts, likely to have a big impact on prices when markets reopen next week.

And as for real, sure the


strengthened against most currencies, but not against the Brazilian one, which fell below R$2.00 to $1, from R$2.10 on Wednesday.

That represents a disadvantage to Brazilian producers who are such major exporters of sugar, coffee, soybeans and, increasingly, corn, so providing a support to dollar prices.

It also cuts the likelihood of growers thinking prices are irresistibly strong to sell into.

'A little optimism for the bulls'

So some the Brazilian-linked crops received a boost such as arabica


, which ended up 0.4% at 167.80 cents a pound.

The bean also received support from robusta coffee, which ended up 0.9% in London at $2,241 a tonne for July delivery, on talk of firm demand, plus on ideas that arabicas appeared technically oversold.



recovered a further 0.2% to 19.62 cents a pound, with the stronger real raising the point at which, in dollar terms, it becomes more viable for mills to turn cane into ethanol rather than sweeteners.

Thomas Kujawa at Sucden Financial also noted that industry data, from Unica, on Thursday showing sugar output down 34% so far in 2011-12 "gave a little optimism for the bulls as it seems the Brazil Centre South harvest so far has shown slow progress due to rain".

Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said: "If results don't begin to rise in the next month the trade will become more alarmed about production prospects."

Brazil sells corn to US?

In Chicago,


rose too, although joy in Chicago at the stronger real was tempered by Brazil;s continued export competitiveness.

Taiwan's Breakfast Soybean Procurement Association was revealed overnight to have bought 115,000 tonnes of Brazilian soybeans.

"This is disappointing with their short crop," US Commodities said, speaking from a US perspective.

Furthermore, there was speculation, which has been unable to confirm, of the US importing Brazilian soybeans, following purchases by east coast feedmakers of Brazilian, and UK, wheat earlier in the season.

"It is true that Brazil


is about $0.60 a bushel cheaper than US corn," US Commodities said.

'Hot, dry, weather'

In fact, the biggest threat to both crops was from the weather, to the next harvest, with this weekend, at least, bringing uncomfortably hot weather.

"The bottom line still brings hot, dry, weather to a big part of the Midwest, excluding the north west, from now into Monday," World Weather said.

Ok after that, "two frontal systems and a possible third will bring waves of light rain across the Midwest during the balance of the two-week outlook offering relief to the driest conditions", but of course forecasts, especially longer distance ones, can change.

Gail Martell, at Martell Crop Projections said: "Spring growing conditions have been unseasonably hot, evaporating field moisture and sapping field moisture.

"A big portion of the US heartland has 45-50% short-to-very-short soil moisture."

Price divergence

Soybeans "especially are off to a rocky start with insufficient topsoil moisture for germination", she added.

Corn's earlier planting allowed seedlings more time to enjoy the wetter soils and develop root systems.

New crop November soybeans stood 0.9% higher at $12.87 ½ a bushel in late deals in Chicago, with the old crop July lot adding 0.6% to $13.83 ½ a bushel.

The pattern was repeated in corn, where the new crop December lot added $5.19 ¾ a bushel while the old crop July lot was stationery at $5.78 ½ a bushel.

'In a tailspin'

Still, it was wheat which did best of all, with the most immediate, and dangerous, weather threats.

"The Russia wheat crop continues to suffer from the heat," US Commodities said, adding that nearer home, harvest yields in Kansas, the top US wheat producing state, were proving "disappointing".

According to the Kansas Association of Wheat Growers, yields in the south west of the state could fall to 20-30 bushels an acre.

Ms Martell said: "Kansas wheat is in a tailspin, ripening prematurely from intense heat and dryness.

"This will result in sharply reduced hard red winter wheat production, compared with the 1.03bn bushels projected on May 1."

Chicago wheat for July stood 2.5% higher at $6.79 ¾ a bushel, following on from a close of Paris milling wheat for November up 1.8% at E216.50 a tonne.

London feed wheat ended up 1.0% at £159.50 a tonne.


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