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Evening markets: crops reverse 'Soros' losses. Corn leads

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Was it really George Soros that was to blame?

That was the rumour in Chicago, that a hedge fund linked to the investment legend had been behind last session's sell-off in agricultural commodities, liquidating holdings in crops to switch top metals, or reducing exposure to raw materials overall, depending on who you believe.

Whether Mr Soros was the reason for the limit down close in corn, or whether it was down to weather, or a mixture of both, there was some evidence of investors' losing their appetite for farm commodities.

Open interest in Chicago corn fell by more than 28,000 contracts on the day, and was down by nearly 90,000 lots on the week.

"Open interest yesterday showed big long liquidation in the May grains, with new selling in July corn, soybeans, wheat and oats," US Commodities said.

Tailwinds

Whatever, the slide appeared to have spiked out the appetite for selling for now, with crops staging a sharp rebound on Friday, encouraged by conditions in other markets.

Shares rose, and the

dollar

fell to a fresh three-year low against a basket of currencies, making dollar-denominated assets such as agricultural commodities more appealing as exports.

Corn

, in essence, recovered the ground in lost in the last session. Chicago's July corn contract, which closed the maximum daily limit in the last session ($0.30 then), stood 26 cents, or 3.6%, higher at $7.55 ¼ a bushel in late deals.

The new crop December lot was 27 cents, or 4.2%, up at $6.64 ½ a bushel.

And other grains were higher too, even oats, which has suffered particularly badly from selling this week.

Sowing - but how much?

The jump was attributed to bargain hunting, with investors taking a less bearish view of weather forecasts indicating a planting window for US corn and soybean farmers.

"There is a realisation that corn planting has made very minimal gains in the Corn Belt this week," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

US Commodities said: "A series of storms are expected to hit the eastern Corn Belt and the Delta in the 11-15 day forecast. This should continue to delay plantings."

And even further west where growers will get better opportunity, it is too chilly for comfort.

Benson Quinn Commodities said: "Cold weather though with freezing temperatures dipping into the central Plains may keep farmers hesitant to put seed into the ground," at least until early next week.

Worse for wheat

For

wheat

, there are still severe doubts over progress for spring sowings, given rain in the north of the US and Canada, while recent rains have not solved the issue of dryness for hard red winter wheat areas.

"The lack of rain in the forecast for the southern Plains and too much rain in the northern Plains restricting spring wheat planting is supporting wheat today," Mr Holaday said.

Benson Quinn added that, for Canada, forecasts show "heavy rains falling across Manitoba this weekend with the balance of the Prairie slated for frequent rain events in the next two weeks".

And as for better hopes for China, "the forecast for the winter wheat and corn region has removed rainfall in the second week of the outlook", although, as the Canadian Wheat Board reminded investors, much of the crop is irrigated.

Chicago wheat for July stood 1.6% higher at $7.90 ¼ a bushel in closing trade, with the Kansas lot adding 1.7% to $8.95 a bushel.

Paris wheat also ended higher, up 1.7% at E244.50 a tonne, helped by its US peers, while London markets were closed for the royal wedding holiday.

Low deliveries

Soybeans

for July stood 2.2% up at $13.83 ¾ a bushel, following the grains higher, despite talk that China had cancelled a further two cargoes of Brazilian soybeans.

But as support for the oilseed, and indeed for grains too, deliveries against the expiring May contract were minimal, indicating that sellers can find better prices on cash markets, or just prefer to hang on.

Soybean and corn deliveries were, in fact, zero, with wheat's at a modest 460 lots, and only soyoil showing a big number, at 3,838 contracts.

'In a downtrend'

Despite the gains, it is not as if bears have lost their touch, with US Commodities warning that its analysis showed that "all grains are now in a downtrend".

Furthermore, wheat looked set to end lower for a third successive month, a feat not seen since 2008, with soybeans losing ground too.

By Agrimoney.com

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