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Evening markets: crops do best to disprove proverb

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"If the bulls have Thanksgiving dinner the bears have a Christmas fest," according to a Chicago traders' proverb.

Investors did their best to prove it wrong, with only a shortened Christmas Eve of trading left, by sending crops higher across the board.

Still, it was relatively easy for commodities to make headway when the dollar was being quite so helpful by falling for the first session in five on data showing weak sales of new US homes. A weaker dollar makes US exports, such as crops, more competitive.

The euro, which hit its lowest for more than three months on Tuesday, rebounded a cent to $1.4350 as of 19:30 GMT.

Meanwhile, oil was higher too, up 2.9%, after weekly data showed US crude inventories falling by more than the market had expected.

That's a bullish sign for crops, many of which are used to make biofuels.

Beans bounce

In Chicago, soybeans were the most notable gainer, if only because they closed higher for the first time in five trading days.

The January contract ended up 10.25 cents at $10.01 ¼ a bushel, with the better-traded March lot up 10.5 cents at 10.08 ¼ a bushel.

Besides dollar-aid, the contract had some support from Census Bureau data showing America's November crush at 168.6m bushels, a record, if in line with market estimates, although large stocks of products tempered celebrations.

Also two senators said they would take up the lapsing at the end of this month of America's $1 a gallon tax subsidy on biodiesel producers, a major fillip for makers of biofuels from soyoil.

Grains gain

In percentage terms, corn was the biggest winter of the big three, adding 1.5% to $4.04 ¾ a bushel for March delivery.

FC Stone data helped by estimating US plantings up only 1m acres for 2010, compared with the 3m acres that Informa Economics forecast last week.

Furthermore, there is still the chance of some further crop losses to winter storms, with some 650m bushels still left to harvest.

Corn's performance helped wheat close up 6 cents at $5.29 a bushel for March,

With the euro stronger, that didn't follow through to Paris wheat, which ended down E0.25 at E129.00 a tonne for January.

London wheat was saved by sagging sterling, which struggled even against the dollar. The January contract ended up £1.15 a tonne at £105.65 a tonne.

By Agrimoney.com

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