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Evening markets: grain price revival floored by oil sell-off

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Grains set course to end a weak week on a weak note.

They spent much of the day in positive territory in Chicago. Indeed, long enough to persuade London wheat for November to close up 0.6% at £174.50 a tonne, the contract's first finish in the black in six trading days.

But early resilience crumbled with a tumble in


prices, which in New York fell nearly 3% to $92.27 a barrel as of 18:00 GMT a level which, if it closed there, would be the lowest since February.

Sales beget sales

The reason for oil's weakness was not readily apparent.

Greece's debt woes were widely blamed, but many markets were taking a more upbeat view of the crisis after Germany backed down over plans for investors to contribute to Greek debt restructuring, potentially paving the wave for a E150bn ($215bn) aid package

Shares markets posted small gains, and the


, an inverse indicator of investor sentiment, slid 0.9%, a move which should in theory support dollar-denominated commodities by making them more competitive to buyers in other currencies.

But it looked like funds were quitting oil in earnest, as they were in



"We have seen this before, funds just getting nervous, and we have a weekend coming up. It just kind of feeds on itself," Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 told

And, of course, weak oil prices reduce margin opportunities for corn ethanol plants.

'Psychological negative'

As for other fundamental news on the negative side, there is talk, which has been unable yet to confirm, that Informa has estimated the US corn yield at 163.8 bushels per acre,

That is 6.0 bushels per acre above the US Department of Agriculture figure, implying an extra 500m bushels and more in output.

There was continuing talk too over Thursday's Senate vote to scrap tax perks for the ethanol industry.

"This bill will not be taken up by the House and therefore will not become law," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

But the vote does highlight that it could be "very difficult to get even a modified extension of tax credits" when they expire at the end of the year.

"This is certainly a psychological negative to corn," Mr Holaday said.

Where's China?

And then there was an event that, apparently, hasn't happened – corn buying by China, which many had expected given the country's previous willingness to buy on breaks.

"Small tenders show world buyers are noticing the drop in prices but no sign of China, yet," Matthew Pierce at PitGuru said.

And then there was the weather, which "across the Corn Belt is non-threatening all the way into the 15 day forecast, above normal rain is forecast. Let's call it rain makes grain for now", US Commodities said.

'Raining again'

Corn for July fell back from early gains to stand 0.7% lower at $6.97 a bushel with 15 minutes or so of trading to go.

Nor could Chicago


hold on to headway, standing 0.5% lower at $6.70 a bushel for July, weighed by pressure from the US harvest as well as bearish news from abroad.

Southern hemisphere farmers, in Argentina and Australia, have got off to good starts to sowing seasons, with Europe getting more much-needed rains.

"It has been raining again in northern Europe, and whilst most traders understand it has come too late to transform a poor crop into a good one, it has certainly prevented it getting any worse," the UK grain trading arm of a leading European commodities house said.

Rush to export

And then there is the danger of a flood of Black Sea exports, despite their limited impact so far in terms of actual deals.

"It's clear that a number of shippers own some seriously cheap wheat in both Russia and Ukraine, and their obvious priority is to get it into a boat and away before either government puts a spanner in the works in the form of taxes or quotas," the UK grain trader said.

Furthermore, European prices have come under pressure from a decision to extend a suspension of import duties on grains from countries outside the EU until the end of the year.

"Consequently, Ukrainian and Russian wheat can compete into the likes of Spain and Portugal without suffering the usual E12-a-tonne tariff."

Paris wheat for November finished 1.3% lower at E213.00 a tonne, with a reviving euro not helping either.

'100% abandonment'


, as a source of soyoil of which much is turned into biodiesel, also felt pressure from falling crude prices.

Chicago's July contract fell 1.3% to $13.33 ¼ a bushel.

But in New York,


, at least the new crop December lot, did manage to hold a rebound, standing 3.2% higher at 124.03 cents a pound, as the Texas crop continues to fry.

Jurgens Bauer at PitGuru reported a former colleague, now a consultant, expecting "abandonment of 100% of dry planted acreage in West Texas. That's very significant".

Staying warm

Among other soft commodities,


tumbled 3.2% to 249.55 cents a pound for July, the weakest finish for a spot contract for four months, as frost once again failed to turn up in Brazil, the top producer, nor was forecast.

Indeed, prospects of better world output in 2011-12 than had been expected have been a drain on sentiment.



once again defied expectations that it too would feel the weight of better 2011-12 supplies, ending up 1.7% at a two-month high of 26.37 cents a pound in New York, for July delivery, helped by thoughts of strong Asian and Middle Eastern demand in the run up to the Ramadan festival.

And, back in Chicago, cattle had another strong day too, with both feeder and live cattle posting gains of 2.5 cents a pound or morein late deals, helped by firm demand, compounded by covering by funds of short positions.

"The demand pick-up? Call it Father's Day and July 4," US Commodities said.


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