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Evening markets: grain prices close down, but not out

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There's a saying in Chicago that if it's raining in LaSalle Street, which is home to the Chicago Board of Trade Building, it is raining everywhere.

It didn't work on Friday, when despite rain on LaSalle indicating better conditions for heat-tested US crops, futures showed surprising strength.

And the saying struggled to do much of a better job on Monday, after a weekend which landed record rains on northern Illinois, including seven inches on Chicago, and indeed indicated that more moisture had landed elsewhere too.

US Commodities noted that "better-than-expected rain fell across Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio over the weekend".

'Strong cold front'

Sure, the forecast is for "less threatening" weather too for major growing areas, with a high pressure system moving north east to "allow a cooler dome later in the week with showers as the front moves through the Midwest". added that the midday GFS weather model "offers a major change in the pattern at the end of the six-to-10 day outlook and in the 11-to-15 day.

"The model now shows a strong cold front coming through the Midwest on August 2-3, followed by an outbreak of much cooler air covering all of the upper Plains and the Midwest."

In other words, the weather threat has waned. And with it being a risk-off day, due to the continued inability of the world's biggest economy to get its financial housekeeping in order – and sending


to another record high - grains looked set for a weak session.

'Down the limit'

But while they closed lower, the bearishness was not as convincing as might have been expected.

"With the rain we had at the weekend, we could have gone down the limit," the maximum daily movement allowed by the exchange, Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 said.

In fact


, the touchstone for grain market sentiment at the moment, as the most threatened by the recent heat, and already in thin supply, closed down 1.6% at $6.74 ½ a bushel for December delivery - but well above the day low of $6.79 a bushel.

That helped Chicago


too, which finished down 0.5% at $6.88 ½ a bushel for September, $0.17 above its lowpoint for the day.

That was enough even to beat


, which have risen in speculators' affections sufficient for their net long position to hit a three-month high, official US data late on Friday showed.

Chicago's best-traded November soybean lot closed don 1.2% at $13.72 a bushel.

Data later...

One reason for soybeans' relative weakness was the better prospects for weather in August, a key month for the crop in the US.

Meanwhile, the revival in corn was put down in part to an export order to Japan, of 105,000 tonnes, revealed through the US Department of Agriculture's daily reporting system, showing that even at current prices there are buyers out there.

In fact, on actual exports, weekly US shipment inspections were, at 35.3m bushels for corn, in line with an upgraded figure for the previous week. For wheat, at 22.4m bushels, they were well ahead of the previous week's 19.4m-bushel figure.

Furthermore, traders were seen reluctant to stretch their neck out too far ahead of data later on Monday expected to give an indication of how much damage last week's heat caused.

Expectations are for the proportion of the US corn crop rated "good" or "excellent" to drop by tow-to-four points. However, last week's figure, showing 66% in the top two bands, was weaker than the market had expected…

'Demand to re-emerge'

Even out-of-favour


managed to pare losses, ending down 1.9% at 96.76 cents a pound in New York for December delivery, amid some hope that the correction has gone far enough for now.

"Most market participants are expecting strong physical demand to re-emerge at these values," Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said, while acknowledging that, "as yet, such demand has not yet surfaced".

At PitGuru, Jurgens Bauer said: "Cotton prices have pulled back to a level where they stand a chance to build momentum for a bounce, but the macro picture does help."

But raw


achieved less of a bounce, closing down 1.9% at 30.74 cents a pound in New York, for October delivery, near the intraday low, weighed on by profit-taking following last week's surge. Also, India's National Federation of Co-operative Sugar factories pressed for the country, the second-ranked sugar producer, to lift its export ceiling, so potentially adding further supplies to the international market.



lost a further 2.3% to $2,996 a tonne for September, ending below $3,000 a tonne for the first time this month, as the negative sentiment evident on Friday, and a warning from ABN Amro of a potential collapse in prices, continued to weigh.


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