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Evening markets: corn resists sell-off. Cocoa succumbs

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Some farm commodities again showed their mettle as other assets sold-off, hit by the latest round of broad market liquidation.

Not all stood firm. And, after all, investors did have some gains to take in many agricultural commodities – not something that can be said for many assets.

New York arabica

coffee

for December, which put in 18 successive sessions of increased intraday highs before the rally finally ran out on Friday, saw a notable reversal this time, standing down 2.4% at 281.15 cents a pound in late deals.

"With pressure stemming from the fear generated in Europe in the macro economy, with all the worries about the eurozone banks, it is obvious that defence is the name of the game," Jurgens Bauer, soft commodities expert at PitGuru, said.

Hope for bulls, eventually

Cocoa

for December tumbled 3.4% to $2,993 a tonne in New York for December delivery, falling below $3,000 a tonne for the first time in two weeks and little helped by data showing arrivals of beans at Ivory Coast ports at 1.414m tonnes by September 4.

This time last season (seasons starting in October) the figure was 1.148m tonnes.

Sudakshina Unnikrishnan at Barclays Capital may eventually prove right the market will turn upwards.

"The supply outlook for the upcoming 2011-12 crop looks less positive," she said.

"We expect global production to decline 5.2% on lower year-on-year production from the Ivory Coast and Ghana due to less-than-ideal weather conditions, which should provide support to prices."

But with external markets heading south, and investors only put into a further panic by a Swiss move to cap the exchange rate of the Swiss franc against the euro to preserve export competitiveness and stave off recession, bullish sentiment was unlikely to take root.

Combines roll

Indeed, external markets undertook the kind of liquidation manoeuvres investors have grown used to, with Wall Street shares down 1.6% in afternoon deals, and the US

dollar

rose 1.0% amid a flight to a so-called safe haven currency.

A firmer dollar only weakens the case for dollar-denominated exports, of course, making them more expensive to buyers in other currencies, and

oil

dipped 1.1% to $85.52 a barrel in New York, another poor signal for crops used as biofuels.

Wheat

fell in line, down 1.6% at $7.63 a bushel in Chicago for December delivery, with a quarter of an hour's trading to go, hit by benign harvesting weather for spring-sown crops as well as the general sell-off.

"The harvest weather in the US northern Plains and Canadian prairies has allowed for the advancement of spring wheat harvest," Benson Quinn Commodities said.

"The overall quality remains a concern, but for the most part, the quality of the crop has not been further reduced due to late season rain events."

Repairing rains?

November

soybeans

dropped 1.8% to $14.20 a bushel, also feeling some weather pressure.

"The soybean sector has experienced more pressure than the other sectors because of the some good rains that have moved through Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan and some parts of the Illinois and Indiana," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

"This will improve the soybeans in those areas and will finish off the soybeans that were not under stress."

That said, not all analysts agreed, with US Commodities saying that "most of the dry areas missed the rain" over the weekend.

"Therefore about one-third of the Corn Belt remains dry."

'Selling absorbed'

The best performer among Chicago's big three was

corn

which dipped 0.5% to $7.56 ½ a bushel for December despite some, relatively, upbeat forecasts from Allendale and Informa Economics for the US harvest.

Furthermore, weekly US export inspections were notable soft too, at 24.2m bushels, down from 30.1m bushels the week before.

Still, investors weren't ready to give up on expectations of thin inventories following weather damage last month and, in particular, in July.

"Corn has once again proven to have the most support as efforts to break this market are typically absorbed by traders looking for value," Benson Quinn said.

By Agrimoney.com

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