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Evening markets: corn pulled to earth by broad economy fears

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Friday came up with plenty of reasons for investors to sell risk assets.

China's trade surplus came in, at $13.1bn last month, well short of estimates of at least $18bn, and igniting worries about the health of the economy behind so much world growth.

South Korea unexpectedly raised interest rates, while Greek debt fears returned centre stage, weakening the euro and helping send the

dollar

0.8% higher. A stronger dollar is a negative for dollar-denominated assets, making them less competitive to buyers in other currencies.

So it was not just shares which fell, with London stocks closing down 1.6%, and Wall Street equities 1.2% lower in late deals.

Many commodities had a poor day too, with

copper

closing at a two week-low and New York

crude

shedding 2.5% in late trading to fall back below $100 a barrel.

'Should have been limit up'

And some followers of agricultural markets took the opportunity to get out too. Even those in

corn

, which was favoured so much by revisions by the US Department of Agriculture on Thursday, cutting estimates for domestic and world inventories.

"Corn should have been limit up yesterday," instead of sub-3% gains, US Commodites said. "This tells us the respect the trade has for rationing."

The grain soared in Chicago to just 0.25 cents shy of hitting $8 a bushel for the first time before losing nearly all its gains to close up 0.5 cents at $7.87 a bushel for July delivery, if still a record finish for a spot contract.

Selling was encouraged by the prospect of a weekend ahead, a time for caution in a fast-moving market, and by the grain's unusual premium over

wheat

.

Against the grain

Last time, in April, investors who changed horses when corn reached its premium made a quick buck, with the reversal over wheat only lasting a couple of days.

This time, it has been four days and investors weren't banking on it too much longer. Chicago's July wheat contract soared 1.9% to $7.59 ¼ a bushel.

And this despite the grain having little on its own merits to cheer.

Kansas wheat for July, which is not so involved in corn spreads, fell 0.4% to $8.68 a bushel and Minneapolis wheat for the same month tumbled 2.0% to $10 a bushel on the nose.

A wheat order by Tunisia on Thursday offered reminder of the revived competitiveness in wheat markets being priced at $333.00 a tonne, including freight, "nearly a $60.00 discount to offers from the US", Benson Quinn Commodities said.

Rain in Europe

Futures were weak in Europe too, despite the euro's decline, and sterling weakness on weak UK industrial output data - factors offset by rains for dry areas.

"Over the next several days a series of major storm systems or deep low pressure areas will be tracking through the UK," WxRisk.com said.

"The next one arrives on Sunday which we followed by a even stronger system on Tuesday and Wednesday which we followed by a massive system - potentially- on June 17. That one could bring a major trough with significant showers and thunderstorms to much of France Spain and Germany."

Things are looking better in the Ukraine too, with "most of the model data showing a significant trough staying over the Ukraine, and the next several days seeing pretty good rains especially over the southern portions and near the Black Sea and the Crimea".

Durum damage?

OK the rain is not all good, delaying the early harvest in Spain, where the government is expecting a grains crop of 22m tonnes, up from 19.7m tonnes last year.

The rain "may cause some of the durum crop to lose its Hagberg and be downgraded to feed", as one large European commodities house noted.

But that could "lead to a lower import requirement on feed grains", bad news for the UK, which typically ships Spain a stack of feed wheat.

London's November wheat contract slumped 2.6% to £184.45 a tonne, with Paris wheat for the same month closing down 1.8% at E231.25 a tonne.

'Crop will incur stress'

Chicago

soybeans

maintained their gentle ride south, falling 0.5% to $13.87 ¼ a bushel for July, after a bearish treatment in Thursday's USDA' Wasde report.

They were joined this time by New York

cotton

, which having closed the last session limit up, fell 0.7% to 150.03 cents a pound this time for July delivery.

This time, the new crop December contract led, being actually better favoured by Wasde revisions which raised US abandonment rates near to record levels for this year's crop, thanks to drought in Texas.

"I think the crop will incur stress and so predict production will never grow during the summer. In other words I think traders have seen the high number for production," Jurgens Bauer at PitGuru sad.

Bullish Brazil

Still,

Sugar

was a better place for bulls to be, as the echo of last year's recovering from a spring tumble continued, as buyers rushed to secure supplies in the face of some logistical concerns.

"We seem to have a consensus emerging in the market that despite projected surplus sugar in the global supply/demand statistics and improvements in Thailand and India, any mildly contentious issues coming from Brazil are bullish," Thomas Kujawa at Sucden Financial said.

Rain hold-ups to sugar deliveries at ports, and to ports, in Brazil, the top exporter, last year were a big factor in reviving prices. And the queue of ships waiting to load up in Brazil is growing again.

"It seems we will have to monitor the Brazilian weather... very closely in the coming weeks," Mr Kujawa said.

London white sugar closed up 1.4% at a three month high of $723.50 a tonne for August delivery.

New York raw sugar outperformed this time, closing up 3.2% at 25.64 cents a pound for July.

By Agrimoney.com

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