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Evening markets: corn, cotton, wheat rise above poor market

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Greeks might wish they could go back to 1996, the days before the euro, the country's mammoth employment rates etc.

Wheat has actually done so, in terms of the length of time that investors need to go back before finding a week to match the current one, according to Reuters beancounters,

Chicago's July

wheat

contract ended the day up 5.7% at an eight-month closing high of $6.95 ¼ a bushel, a prize performance on its own given the liquidation going on in external markets courtesy of the concerns of eurozone implosion, or least a little fragmentation.

Brent

crude

, for instance, fell to its lowest of 2012, as did London stocks, which shed 1.3% to their lowest levels since November.

Price rises

But added to what wheat has already achieved, the rise took the grain's gains this week above 17%, the best weekly performance since April 1996.

Wheat prices of close on Friday

Chicago: $6.95 ¼ a bushel, +5.7% Kansas: $7.05 a bushel, +4.9% Paris: E215.25 a tonne, +4.0% Minneapolis: $7.92 a bushel, +3.2% London: £158.80 +3.3% Prices for July contract on US exchanges, and November lot in Europe

Paris wheat for November, the best traded contract, ended up 4.0% at E215.25 a tonne for the day, with the specific contract recording a gain of just under 10% for the week.

London wheat for November gained 3.3% to £158.80 a tonne for the day and was 7% more expensive than a week before.

'High temperatures and little rain'

The catalyst, of course, was the weather concerns as reeled off by US Commodities, which noted "dryness in the southern Plains, Europe, Russia, and northern China along with parts of the north west Corn Belt and Canadian Prairies".

The broker missed Australia, where many eastern areas are uncomfortably dry at planting time, and Kazakhstan too.

"It's a story of high temperatures and little rain," traders at a large commodities house, with considerable Black Sea farming interest said, noting also an

"The worst affected area is in south-eastern Russia, on the borders of the Black Sea," they added, noting a forecast from Krasnodar regional governor Alexandre Tkachev that drought may cut local wheat output by 27%.

"Whether this is a scientific assessment or a brave attempt by a local official to support the wheat market is unclear."

'Turning white rather than golden'

Indeed, these traders were not the only ones to point out that "there is still time for better conditions to save the crop".

In the US, Country Futures' Darrell Holaday said: "It is awfully early to start moving into the Russian drought mode that developed in 2010." In late June of that year, to be precise.

Still, Chicago investors were in no mood to compromise, carrying huge short positions which needed covering, and with evidence of weather damage close to home given the dryness and heat effecting US hard red winter wheat.

"Plants are turning white rather than golden and doing so far too quickly," the grain traders said.

Besides, no rains are forecast for the southern Plains until at least the end of the month.

'Large heat dome'

Indeed, US weather conditions are beginning to raise a little concern over spring crops too, of too much in the way of heat and too little of rain, the kind of thing hinted at in a long-range forecast from official US meteorologists on Thursday.

Over the next week, "temperatures are expected to be well above normal in many key growing regions with the possibility of portions of the Delta and SE seeing periods of 100 degree Fahrenheit temperatures", Benson Quinn Commodities said.

WxRisk.com said that models "show a large heat dome developing over all of the Midwest on May 25 and staying in position through the entire Memorial Day weekend into Tuesday May 29.

"This implies temperatures between 92-97 degrees for much of the Midwest and north east." (Good for demand for barbecue meats, at least.)

With wheat higher, and basis remaining strong, corn rose 1.7% to $6.35 ½ a bushel for July, and the same to $5.27 a bushel for the new crop November lot.

'Fear of larger acres'

The strength did not, however, extend to

soybeans

, which tumbled 2.3% to $14.05 a bushel for July, and 1.4% to $12.88 a bushel for November delivery.

The oilseed is particularly vulnerable to the broader market liquidation thanks to the huge net long position funds have in the contract, built up as poor South American crop raised (and still raise) ideas about tight demand.

However, also "a fear of larger acres is anchoring the market", US Commodities said, with growers being encouraged by the high prices to plant more than they would have done – if not in the southern Plains where double crop sowings look likely to prove less widespread because of the poor weather.

'Difficult to sustain any rally'

Buyers proved willing to buy many soft commodities too, although not

orange juice

, which chalked up another dismal session, closing for July down 3.5% to end at a two-year low of 102.20 cents a pound, and at one time dropping below the 100-cent mark.

And raw

sugar

returned to the downward path, falling 1.9% to 20.47 cents a pound in New York.

"Eyes are still on Brazil Centre South crop development, and figures as low as 470m tonnes of cane crushed seem to be built into the price," Nick Penney at Sucden Financial said.

"There is still a 5m-6m tonne surplus to be absorbed despite Centre South Brazil's potential shortfall, and it is going to be difficult for the market to sustain any rally for long,"

'New normal'

Indeed, separately, Czarnikow reminded that Brazil is waning in importance in sugar, with other producers taking an ever-bigger market share.

"Production growth around the world has been enabled by increased milling capacity. Thailand, for instance, managed to accommodate a 40% increase in cane throughput availability, whilst China and India's industries have come close to historic highs," the broker said.

"Compare that with Brazil, where costs have risen as productivity falls, despite higher sugar prices globally."

Toby Cohen, Czarnikow director, said: "We are seeing a 'new normal' emerge, with Brazil's sugar role seemingly in decline, and other exporters rising in importance."

Cotton revives

However, July

cocoa

added 2.2% to $2,273 a tonne.

And New York

cotton

gained 1.8% to 77.99 cents a pound, benefitting from ideas that prices near two-year lows may stimulate demand, and with Goldman Sachs forecasting that US sowings may fall even more than the US Department of Agriculture has factored in.

By Agrimoney.com

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