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Evening markets: ags tumble as Greek fears inspire 'panic'

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"Greece" was the word for investors on Wednesday. And it rang with unhappy undertones.

The prospect of Greek exit from the eurozone became that bit more real when it was revealed that officials at a European Union summit agreed that member countries would draw up individual contingency plans for prepare for the event of such a withdrawal.

The results were not pretty for bulls, as markets adopted the usual risk-off drill.

Shares

tumbled more than 2% on Europe's main exchanges, and stood 1.3% lower in New York in late deals.

'Panic selling'

The safe haven of the

dollar

, the (negative commodity price) implications of whose strength was discussed at greater length earlier, soared 0.8% against a basket of currencies.

Brent

crude

fell more than 2% to five-month lows below $106 a barrel.

Indeed, markets were also alive with mention of the "p" word, with a focus too on the economic slowdown in China, and what this might mean for commodities demand.

"The grains are now trying to work through a major commodity sell off and some panic selling tied to concerns surfacing regarding China," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

'Wash out'

For the average commodity, as measured by the CRB index, this meant falling 1.8% to the lowest level since September 2010.

Major losers among agricultural commodities as of Weds close

New York orange juice: 103.10 cents a pound, -5.1% New York coffee: 166.90 cents a pound, -4.4% Kuala Lumpur palm oil: 3,019 ringgit a tonne, -2.9% Chicago wheat: $6.65 ½ a bushel, -2.9% New York cocoa: $2,124 a tonne, -2.5% Prices for July contracts on US exchanges, August for palm oil. In Chicago, as of close of live trading session

cotton, which for July delivery dropped 4.0% to 71.51 cents a pound, the weakest for a spot contract since February 2010.

Cotton is particularly exposed among crops to macroeconomic weakness through its status as an industrial, farm commodity, besides its poor fundamentals, with inventories expected in 2012-13 to build on this season's record high.

Furthermore, the fibre has weak technicals. "The market looks like it might have had the wash out that had been anticipated by Elliott Wave chartists," Mike Stevens, the Louisiana-based analyst said.

And cotton is particularly exposed to the stronger dollar, with the US being the biggest exporter, but rivals such as Brazil and India seeing rapid downswings in their currencies.

'It's looking ominous'

Indeed, the weaker real, R$1.70 to $1 at the start of March, reached R$2.10 to $1 at one point on Wednesday, also lowering the floor for prices for other major Brazilian crop exports such as arabica

coffee

.

New York's July lot tumbled 4.4% to 166.90 cents a pound, the weakest for a spot contract since August 2010.

Raw

sugar

, of which Brazil is the top exporter, dropped 1.5% to 19.51 cents a pound in New York for July delivery, also the weakest finish for a spot lot in nearly 21 months.

"It's looking a little ominous for the sugar bulls. There seems little in the way of fight from the market," Thomas Kujawa at Sucden Financial said.

"The pertinent question seems to be 18 cents a pound or 17 cents a pound, or even 15 cents a pound?"

Certainly, as some analysts have pointed out, the switchover rate of 19-20 cents a pound when it becomes more profitable for Brazilian mills to make ethanol from cane rather than sugar has been heading south with the real.

'Good yields'

In grains, there were some added complications to factor in.

Some were price negative, such as the rain in parts of Russia and Ukraine which has weakened fears for winter crops losses, if not eliminated them, with other regions still dry.

Wheat

also suffered from reports that the early harvest may not be going so badly.

"We are starting to hear hard red winter wheat yields out of Texas and Oklahoma which are termed as good," Paul Georgy at Allendale said, if noting that the top wheat producing state of Kansas, where "yields are expected to be poor" still lay ahead.

Wheat for July ended Chicago's full 21-hour session (ie at 14:00 local time, rather than the 13:15pm when pit trading ends) at $6.68 ¼ a bushel, down 2.5% on the day.

Kansas July wheat stood down 1.7% at %6,89 ¾ a bushel while in Europe, November milling wheat closed 1.2% lower at E212.00 a tonne in Paris.

November feed wheat finished 1.7% down at £156.15 a tonne.

Orders ditched or switched, or not?

But other factors were more disputed.

Take the ideas of order cancellations by China, the top importer of

soybeans

, and now a major buyer of US

corn

too.

Traders have noted rumours of cancellations of Chinese purchases of US corn and soybeans, deferrals to late lots, or switching of purchases to South America.

Still, as Benson Quinn Commodities noted, there has been so confirmation "so far that recent purchases of US beans have not been cancelled.

"There is no confirmation of any corn cancellations" either, although buyers "may have switched origin from the US to Brazil".

'Looks wetter next week'

Then there is the weather outlook.

Some say it looks like the moisture situation for US crops is getting better.

The forecast "looks wetter next week", US Commodities said.

"The American models are very wet in the six-to-10 day maps. The European model [for US weather] is not as wet but has gone wetter this morning."

Allendale's Paul Georgy concurred "Weather models turned wet for next week in the Midwest and the dome of heat disappeared in the 10-to-15 day model runs."

'Weather forecasts are not bearish'

But Country Futures' Darrell Holaday said: "The reality is that the weather forecasts are not bearish for price because they are not generous with moisture. Generally, just adequate rainfall in the heart of the Corn Belt."

And WxRisk.com said that latest model runs had "lowered rains" with an imminent cold front once the front begins to drive into the central Plains and the Midwest May 28-30".

"It brings some showers and storms to these areas, but it's not really very significant, with large areas of the Midwest seeing 0.25 inches only, and others 0.25-0.75 inches," the weather service added.

Soybeans, more dependent on Chinese purchases, and suffering more liquidation by funds of their record net long in the oilseed, stood at 14:00 local time at $13.65 ½ a bushel for July, down 1.2%.

Corn investors, however, took a more upbeat view. Chicago's July contract reached $6.04 ¾ a bushel, a gain of 1.3%, while the new crop December lot added 0.5% to $5.24 ¾ a bushel.

By Agrimoney.com

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