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Evening markets: beaten-up grains show signs of recovery

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Grains didn't rollover on Friday, in the end.

Sure, the headline figures on some Chicago


contracts looked dismal. September corn closed down 5.4% at $6.06 ¾ a bushel while the best-traded December lot shed 3.6% to $5.96 ¾ a bushel.

But that was always on the cards after the lots locked limit down in the last session, leaving stacks of unfulfilled selling, on the shock US Department of Agriculture sowings and inventory data showing prospects for corn supplies were not nearly as tight has had been thought.

And in fact, both contracts managed some bounce off their lows, especially the December lot which pared half its losses.

Sweet for wheat

What was more intriguing was the reaction of some other contracts, such as the July corn lot, which rebounded 2.2% to $6.40 ¾ a bushel.



for July added only 0.25 cents to its losses, finishing at $5.84 ½ a bushel, while the December contract, which fell the exchange maximum in the last session, retrieved 0.4% to end at $6.60 a bushel.

Higher-protein wheats posted decent gains, with Kansas what added 2.1% for July to $7.03 a bushel while its Minneapolis spring wheat peer took on 0.9% to close at $8.31 a bushel.

And European contracts closed firmer too, Paris wheat for November gained 1.8% to E187.75 a tonne and London wheat for the same month rebounded2.2% to £160.50 a tonne.

China buying

Many of the reasons touted for the rise were reassuring to bulls.

One was the date, the first of the month (and indeed second half of 2011), a time when funds by repute put fresh money into the market, although talk after the close of the sale of 15,000 corn contracts raised a question mark over that.

Another was the announcement of the sale of 1m tonnes of corn to an unknown buyer, believed to be China, confirming speculation that it had been attracted back to the market by lower prices.

"Many believe they will buy additional US corn on this break in prices," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

'Doesn't believe a word'

Then there is the continued lack of deliveries against July corn and soybean contracts, which have entered the expiry process, triggering their obligations for physical crop. A dearth of deliveries is usually taken as a sign that futures prices are not competitive.

"It is important to not draw too much from that, but it certainly does indicate that July corn is not overpriced relative to the cash market at the delivery points," Mr Holaday said.

Nor was the weather outlook universally benign, with "most of the Corn Belt baking today under the warmest temperatures of the growing season with temps over 100 degrees Fahrenheit", a threat to crops, although the heat is not expected to last.

And that is before taking into account the persistent doubts that the US Department of Agriculture data which sent prices into a tailspin are credible.

"The trade doesn't believe a word from the USDA," Matthew Pierce at PitGuru said.

Independence Day effect?

The one threat to the more bullish view of Friday's events also concerned the date – it being July 4 on Monday meaning a long weekend ahead, an even which often prompts many investors like to tread cautiously close positions.

And, given what has been going on in grain markets, closing positions is likely to mean short covering, which brings upward pressure to prices.


rise was more convincing, given a US acreage downgrade steered them less controversially through the USDA data.

"The soybean complex is still facing an ending stock number near 150m bushels, and the lower acreage yesterday, along with the prospect that it will likely still go down slightly, has prompting buying," Mr Holaday said.

The July lot added 1.2% to $13.22 ¼ a bushel, with the new crop November lot adding 1.4% to $13.12 ½ a bushel.

Supply fears

Still, that was nothing compared with raw


which added 3.5% to 27.25 cents a pound for October delivery, in the contract's first day as the spot lot.

The rise was attributed to continued concerns over Brazil's crop, and whether there was a question mark over world supplies, maybe even to the onset of what is expected to be healthy 2011-12 Indian output.

London white sugar for August jumped 4.2% to a four-month closing high of $769.60 a tonne.

However, New York


fell back, easing 0.7% to 263.65 cents a pound for September delivery, as fears for frost in Brazil, the world's top coffee-producing country, tailed off.


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