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Evening markets: ags lead as commodity prices retreat

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It wasn't true to say all risk assets were in the doghouse on Monday.


firmed in Europe's major stockmarkets, and on Wall Street.

But, whether it was because of their particular exposure to China, or the knock-on effect on the asset class of a 2% drop in


thanks to the potential early reversal of the US Seaway pipeline, but commodities lagged.

Copper dropped to a three-month low at one point, and the CRB commodities index closed down 0.7%, and many crops did far worse, facing their own particular setbacks.

"The world feels a bit overbought with macros, weather and weak demand all helping bear rule for a while," grains trader Matthew Pierce said.

Huge delivery

Take raw


, for example, which closed down 2.0% at 22.90 cents a pound in New York, after data from London, where white sugar is traded, showed huge deliveries against the May contract, which expired on Friday.

Nyse Liffe, which operates the London futures exchange, said that a historically large 5,279 lots were delivered against the white sugar contract, equivalent to 264,000 tonnes.

The stash included 125,000 tonnes of Indian whites, the country's first deliveries in London for four years, and believed to include some Pakistani supplies too, with sugar from Guatemala and Thailand making up the balance.

Louis Dreyfus and Cargill are seen as delivering the sugar, and ED&F Man receiving it.

And this when the technical structure of the New York market was already softening, with Nick Penney at Sucden Financial noting that "pressure by fund selling on the May/ July spread also caused the structure to weaken substantially".

London's August white sugar contract, in its first day as the spot lot, and closing at 18:30 UK time for the first occasion too, to match New York, ended 2.6% lower at $595.40 a tonne.

Crush data underwhelm


had price negative data too, in monthly crush data which showed US processors using 140.5m bushels of the oilseed last month, a rise on February's result, but below market expectations.

While many commentators remained upbeat on the oilseed, investors chose to liquidate some of their huge net long position in the oilseed, a record net long in the case of speculators' holdings.

Chicago's May lot close down 1.2% at $14.20 a bushel with


, for which inventories topped forecasts, falling 1.4% for May to 55.66 cents a pound.


got off relatively lightly, dropping 1.0% to $391.40 a short ton.

'Lot of unwinding'

It looked like grains might escape relatively unscathed too, if only because for funds to sell 6,000 soybean contracts, as they did, meant in some case unwinding long soybean/short





"It is worth noting that old crop corn and wheat has been supported today because of the unwinding of the soybean/corn and soybean/wheat spreads," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said, with an hour or so of trading to go.

"There is a lot of unwinding to occur and some of it is occurring today."

But that was to ignore the extra selling pressure that came from the US weather, which gave plenty of rain at the weekend to help spring seedlings, and over which frost fears seemed to have been written out of the equation.

'This is near ideal'

"The rain that moved through the US hard red winter wheat area continues to provide promise of a large crop and getting bigger," Mr Holaday said.

"Reports from Kansas down through Texas just simply get better and better with yield potential very high and also a significant increase in the harvest acreage as a percentage of planted acreage."

US Commodities said: "Rains in Iowa ranged from 0.75-6 inches. The rest of the Corn Belt had 0.5-2 inches.

"Additional showers are expected later in the week. The temperatures will remain favourable with rain falling every six-to-eight days. This is near ideal."

'Rain makes grain'

At Linn Group, Roy Huckaby said: "Rain makes grain. That is what is making this market move.

"When there is rain over 95% of the Corn Belt over the weekend, it bodes well for yields."

Corn closed 1.0% lower at $6.23 ¼ a bushel. And Chicago wheat did even worse, ending down 1.2% at $6.16 ¼ a bushel for May.

Much of the decline came too late to drag too much on European markets. Paris wheat for May ended 0.1% higher at E209.25 a tonne, and London's May contract added 0.4% to £176.50 a tonne.

Crop progress

It is also worthy of note that even Chicago wheat did better than new crop December corn, which closed down 2.0% at $5.26 ¼ a bushel, sunk by the idea of a rain-blessed spring, and by rapid sowings as well, although investors will have to wait for confirmation of this.

An electrical fire means the USDA's weekly Crop Progress report, due out at 4pm Washington time, will not be released until Tuesday.

The briefing is expected to show US corn sowings at 19-25% complete, and soybeans 1% finished.

Corn's fall, and a 0.9% loss to $13.50 a bushel in November soybeans, took the corn: soybean ratio to 2.57:1, from levels below the important 2.50 mark last week.

"The soybean market is buying soybean acres," US Commodities said.

Limit down

Still, even December corn fared well compared with


, which plunged the daily 4.0-cent limit in New York to end at 88.08 cents a pound for May delivery, a decline blamed on liquidation by investors who ran up positions last week.

"Cotton was the standout performer in the ag market last week, rising 4%," Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said.

"However, cotton's strong gains were largely tied to bargain hunting following a 5% fall in the previous period. Since mid-February cotton prices have tracked sideways," and in fact now downwards.

At least


made ground, adding 2.3% to $2,300 a tonne in New York for May delivery,

The round of grind data showed that while Malaysia's fell 8.4% year on year in the first-quarter, Brazil's rose 3% in March, showing the upbeat data from Europe on Friday was not a complete anomaly.


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