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Evening markets: commodity bears steal the show

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External markets said "go" on Wednesday but crops said "no", bar near-term soybeans, as traders remained fixed on crop fundamentals.

It was a good day for equities – the Dow Jones Industrial Average ended 2.1% higher.

The dollar stumbled – that's normally good news for dollar-denominated commodities, making them cheaper to foreign buyers.

And oil firmed, bouncing back above $70 a barrel following rebel attacks on Nigerian facilities, which raised the threat of tighter supplies.

Fundamental concerns

That is normally good news for agricultural commodities too, given that many are feedstocks for biofuels.

But Chicago investors remained focused on crop supplies – with prospects boosted by hot and dry weather, helping farmers finish soybean planting and harvest winter wheat, as well as boosting prospects for grain and oilseed seedlings.

Soybeans managed to beat the bears, helped by firm US export data, signalling that US stocks may be on course to hit a 32-year low, as the US Department of Agriculture has predicted.

Chicago's July contract ended 11 cents higher at $11.96 a bushel.

However, later contracts suffered, damaged by the prospect of a decent harvest. November beans, for instance, lost 6 cents to $10.02 a bushel.

UK wheat woes

And it was a similar story in the main grains. Corn, for all its qualities as a maker of oil alternatives, lost 4 cents to $3.82 ½ a bushel for July delivery, with wheat off 6.75 cents at $5.33 a bushel, its lowest close since April 30.

Still, UK farmers were in even worse straits. London wheat for July slumped £3.25 to £97.00 a tonne, falling under the £100 mark for the first time since December.

Paris wheat for August dropped E0.50 to E136.50 a tonne.

Sugar sweet once more

Investors in sugar, another major biofuels foodstock, were more bullish about the oil price, seeing it as another reason to buy besides the prospect of another weak Indian crop, if the monsoon is as weak as official forecasters are making out.

New York's October raw sugar contract added 0.57 cents to end at 17.70 cents a pound, with London's white sugar contract for August delivery added $4.10 to $451.90 a tonne.

Coffee, however, weakened on a report from CoffeeNetwork which forecast a global surplus for robusta beans for a second successive year.

London's September robusta contract slid $12 to $1,313 per tonne, after touching a low of $1,250 earlier.

New York's September arabica beans added 1.10 cents to $1.208 cents per pound.

By Mike Verdin

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