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Evening markets: bear pressures keep crops from market party

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A day which started out brightly for many risk assets ended even more so.

So-called "technocrats" strengthened their grip on Greek and Italian governments, signalling that economic best practice might prevail over political waywardness in the indebted nations.

And the entrenching "risk-on" mood drove shares higher, with Wall Street stocks up 2.3% in late deals after gains of 1.9% in London, 2.8% in Paris and 3.2% on the Frankfurt stock market.



volatility "gauge of fear" index fell 8%, while the safe haven of the


slipped 1.1%. It was conventional stuff.

Sector reluctance

Except that many commodities were reluctant to join the party.

Sure, London


gained nearly 2%, gaining for the first time in six trading days.

But that was a significant outperformance over the average raw material, which added 0.4%, according to the CRB index.


was mixed, with New York crude adding more than 1% to top $99 a barrel, but Brent crude up only 0.4%

And many agricultural commodities could not even manage gains at all.

'Global offers of cheaper wheat'

Part of the trouble is the background of a lack of fund interest in agricultural commodities, for now.

"Despite a potentially supportive corn production estimate on Wednesday's US Department of Agriculture report, these markets lack the upward momentum required to trigger fund buying," Benson Quinn Commodities said.

But there is the export question too, "global offers of cheaper wheat, and in many instances cheaper corn" resulting in market "resistance".

And this particular chicken came home to roost in Chicago with news that the UK had sold feed wheat to the US, apparently circa 100,000 tonnes of the stuff, has been told, although that has not been confirmed. More than 50,000 tonnes, anyway.

Following on from rumours of Brazilian imports of 100,000 tonnes of feed wheat to the Carolinas, and weak US weekly wheat export sales data on Thursday, the shipment from the UK jarred a raw nerve.

Great expectations

Nor did wheat get any help from


, after Informa Economics lifted to 94.0m acres its estimate for US sowings of the grain next year, which would be the highest figure since 1944.

That touched another popular theme, of growing expectations for next year's crops.

US Commodities, for instance, said it was "possible to have a 1.4bn bushel corn carryout and a 300m bushel soybean carryout in 2012-13 if weather is favourable".

Corn tumbled 1.6% to $6.38 ½ a bushel for December delivery, with wheat at least staging some late comeback to end down 0.5% at $6.16 ¾ a bushel for the same month.

Bouncing beans



were, for once, the leader of Chicago's big three crops, adding 0.7% to $11.75 ½ a bushel for January delivery, bouncing off a one-month low.

Many traders continued to cheer Thursday's better weekly US export data, for soybeans.

But there were also technical reasons for buying, with the oilseed looking oversold on the so-called relative strength index, which compares upward with downwards movement in futures.

Furthermore, the Rosario Grains Exchange interrupted the run of upbeat news from South America by cutting to 49.5m tonnes, from 50.3m tonnes, its forecast for the country's soybean crop.

The USDA has 2011-12 output at 52.0m tonnes.

'Cancellations will run hot'

In New York,


proved less able to continue its upward run, amid growing doubts over whether the huge US weekly export number unveiled on Thursday, of 1m running bales, to China, was more than a one-off.

"Some of our Asian contacts continue to believe [export order] cancellations will run hot in the next few months if the global economy continues soft," Scott Briggs at Australia & New Zealand Bank's London office said.

And raw sugar for March took a tumble of 1.5% to 25.00 cents a pound, the worst finish for a month, with London white sugar for December doing even worse, shedding 3.5% to $652.10 a tonne, amid talk of bearish pressure.

"There are rumours that a large Swiss trade house are looking to take on the December whites," Thomas Kujawa at Sucden Financial said.


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