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Evening markets: corn hits record high. More gains to come?

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Darren Dohme at Powerline Group summed it up so: "Right now,

corn

has no enemies."

Sure, many people may be feeling a little sore as the grain's meteoric rise continued on Monday, driving the grain to match its record high of $7.65 a bushel in Chicago, for the spot May lot. It indeed set a record close, of $7.60 ¼ a bushel, up 3.3% or $0.24 a bushel on the day.

Farmers who sold out last week, before the surge of more than $1-a-bushel in three sessions, taking intraday highs and lows, may be cursing profusely, and anyone with a naked short sweating moreso.

Nor did the funds who sold out last month in the switch from ags to oil look quite so smart, buying a whopping 25,000 lots on Monday.

Not there, but closer

But in terms of pricing, there was little feeling that, frankly, corn's return the top was unwarranted, after the US Department of Agriculture last week warned that US stocks were 170m bushels below market expectations.

Margins for the ethanol industry are still healthily positive, while live

cattle

prices set a fresh record high too, rising 0.6% to 122.700 cents a pound in Chicago.

"So car we can't even choke off the livestock feeding demand," Mr Dohme said.

Darrell Holaday "We are looking for a price level that will put margins negative in one of the use sectors. Nothing yet, but we are $0.24 a bushel closer today than we were Friday."

Where to now?

So what price might work?

Technically, it is possible the market may, for technical reasons, baulk at crossing the $7.65 record.

"That will now be the area of resistance that the market will have to deal with to work higher," Mr Holaday said.

And if Tuesday proves out to be one of those Turnaround ones of Chicago lore, that could put an extra dampener on the immediate outlook.

But US Commodities put it so: "The corn market now needs to prove it can ration at least 200m bushels of demand. The market failed to do this at $7-$7.40 a bushel. The next target for rationing will be $7.50-$8.00 a bushel."

'Hot and dry'

The rise was good for other grains too. After all, if corn is so expensive, the use of other feed grains, such as

wheat

, which after all has higher protein levels, becomes that much more attractive.

And, indeed, Chicago wheat had a storming day as well, soaring 4.0% to $7.90 a bushel, and maintaining an advantage over corn.

(Corn has historically gained a premium over wheat in Chicago, but only in exceptional circumstances, and pretty transiently.)

As an extra fillip for wheat prices, weather forecasts remain poor, being too dry for hard red winter wheat in America's southern Plains, and looking wet for sowings in the north.

"The weather is now a concern. The Southern Plains were hot and dry over the weekend," US Commodities said.

Slow sowings?

Just how much of a concern will be revealed in the USDA's first full US crop progress report later.

Whatever, forecasts don't look like helping matters ahead, with Benson Quinn Commodities nothing that the "southern Plains weather is forecast for hot and dry conditions to persist for at least the next 10 days".

"The northern Plains wheat area remains cold and wet and could delay spring wheat plantings in the US and Canada," the broker added.

In Kansas, which trades hard red winter wheat, the May contract closed up 4.6% at $9.48 a bushel, while Minneapolis spring wheat for May jumped 4.2% to $9.61 ½ a bushel.

The US performances lifted European contracts too, with Paris May wheat finishing up 2.6% at E246.00 a tonne, while London wheat for the same month ended 2.1% higher at £203.75 a tonne.

South America vs US

Back in Chicago,

soybeans

were the laggard.

Very much so, despite their own tight US stocks, finishing down 0.7% at $13.84 a bushel for May amid concerns of the fall-off in demand, notably from China, the top importer of the oilseed.

"The soybean complex has been weak throughout the day," Mr Holaday said.

"The supply of soybeans available out of South America makes rationing the US supply of soybeans much less important today."

Benson Quinn noted "talk that China continues to roll or cancel bean sales due to negative domestic crush markets".

They lost ground on a new crop basis too, with the November contract finishing down 0.1% at $13.89 a bushel, while bitter acres rival corn added 1.0% to $6.45 ½ a bushel.

Sugar sweetens

Among soft commodities,

sugar

gained ground, adding 2.0% to 28.00 cents a pound in New York for may delivery, after South Africa confirmed drought-depressed output in 2010-11, down 12% at 1.9m tonnes.

The market has also gained support from a USDA report on Friday that cane damage in the southern states would necessitate an extra 300,000 tonnes in import quotas.

"There are some stories circulating for the bulls to rally with," Thomas Kujawa at Sucden Financial said.

New York

cocoa

edged up $9 to $3,020 a tonne for May delivery, as turmoil escalated in Ivory Coast, the top producing country, between forces loyal to internationally-recognised president Alassane Ouattara and incumbent Laurent Gbagbo.

But robusta

coffee

tumbled again in London, continuing to be depressed by signs of firm exports of the beans. The May contract ended down 3.4% at $2,339 a tonne.

By Agrimoney.com

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