Where did all the buyers go?
Darrell Holaday at Country Futures summed it up so: "This has been one of the most negative days we have seen in the overall marketplace in a long time."
It certainly made ugly reading for any investor with a long position in anything deemed a risk asset, with
The one notable gainer was the
"Across the board, US export sales of grains are lower from a year ago," Mr Holaday said.
"If you look at the amount exported and outstanding sales,
All commodity types were caught in the meltdown, with
Grain, oilseed closing prices
Chicago corn: $6.50 a bushel, -5.2%
Chicago wheat: $6.33 ¾ a bushel, -5.0%
London wheat: £156.55 a tonne, -2.6%
Chicago soybns: $12.83 a bushel, -2.5%
Paris wheat: E192.00 a tonne, -2.4%
Paris rapeseed: E437.50 a tonne, -2.1%
Closing prices for near-term contracts
In Chicago, soybeans closed at a six-month low, and within an ace of their weakest since 2011, while wheat and corn set two-month bottoms.
GrainAnalyst floor trader Matthew Pierce said: "This has nothing to do with fundamentals so traders have to put those on the backburner again waiting for the collapse to work itself out."
What it had to do with was the raft of weak economic news, which ambushed investors at every turn.
If it wasn't the poor assessment late on Wednesday by the US Federal Reserve of the American economy, it was the warning by Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, said the economic situation was entering a "dangerous place".
In the European Union, a survey by Markit showed private sector activity contracting for the first time in two years, and China got caught up too, with an HSBC report indicating a further slowdown in the country's manufacturing sector.
As Mr Holaday noted, a slowdown in Asia, and particularly China, "is not good for the commodity sector as that area has represented a broad base of commodity demand in the last two years when much of the world has been very slow".
In fact, on the fundamental score, there were reasons for some cheer, such as an estimate by Argentina of its wheat crop at 11m-13m tonnes. The US Department of Agriculture has the figure at 13.5m tonnes.
Soft commodity closing prices
New York arabica coffee: 239.25 cents a pound, -5.0%
New York raw sugar: 25.67 cents a pound, -4.3%
New York cotton: 99.29 cents a pound, -3.4%
New York cocoa: $2,680 a tonne, -1.7%
Closing prices for near-term contracts
Weekly US export sales were within the range of market estimates on corn and soybeans, and ahead on wheat, at 675,000 tonnes.
And China did turn up with a 180,000-tonne soybean order on top, released through the USDA's daily reporting system.
Sure, it has yet to be confirmed as a buyer of US corn, a rumour which had kept the grain propped earlier in the week.
But there was hope after an executive at trading giant Cofco pegged the domestic crop, even at a record 181.5m tonnes, only just covering demand, and depleted US prices making them cheaper to China, whose currency is tied to the greenback.
"The market has now sunk back to levels that China is believed to be interested in corn purchases. This is $6.50-6.75 a bushel," US Commodities said.
But, with the higher volatility raising fears of increased margin calls, meaning commodity investors have to put down more to cover futures bets, besides the external liquidation, crops headed only one way – downward.
Chicago corn for December tumbled 5.2% to a two-month closing low of $6.50 a bushel, ending again pretty near its day low, while December wheat ended down 5.0% at $6.33 ¾ a bushel, also a two-month finishing low.
Soybeans dropped a more modest 2.5%, to $12.83 a bushel for November, but set a six-month ending low.
Among soft commodities,
"The weak Brazilian real, and the call for rains are one factor, but the drop to new lows has also helped drive coffee even lower," Jurgens Bauer at PitGuru said.
"For whatever reason, big short covering and put selling, possibly by commercials, is holding prices remarkably steady," Louisiana-based cotton specialist Mike Stevens said earlier on.
"Despite horrible outside market influence, support at 100-101 cents a pound continues to hold."
But the support gave way eventually, to send New York's December contract down 3.4% to 99.50 cents a pound in late deals.
"Cotton demand looks terrible. Prices fell again and likely will continue to drop," Mr Bauer said.
Mr Stevens also noted "meagre" US export sales data for cotton, "clearly reflecting the extremely uncompetitive position US cotton is in".
The rate of actual shipments was "even worse… far below the average needed to meet the USDA projection".