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Evening markets: grain prices defy barrage of bearish news

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Fortune turned for the bulls who have been complaining that much of the price decline of recent weeks is irrational.

Fundamentals appeared to have handed bears all the cards on Tuesday, what with ideas increasing for the rains which will refresh drought-struck grain seedlings in the US southern Plains.

"The threat for a good rain for portions of the lower Plains and eastern portions of the central Plains appear to be increasing," said, if "threat" is the right word – not for farmers, anyway.

Then there was Argentina's victory in the latest Egyptian


tender despite a handicap of more than $20 a tonne in shipping fees – meaning it trounced the Black Sea exporters which have, up to now, been seen as formidable price competitors.

Argentina won with bids as low as $219.70 a tonne, below $6 a bushel.

More wheat around

And then there were two crop upgrades.

Australia's was the most momentous, with its crop bureau hiking the estimate of the domestic wheat crop, currently being harvested, by 2.0m tonnes to 28.3m tones, and of its wheat exports to 21.6m tonnes – both records.

But Statistics Canada chipped in with its own upward revision, of more than 1m tonnes to 25.3m tonnes in its figure for the domestic harvest.

(The Canada


upgrade was even bigger league, by 1.3m tonnes to 14.2m tonnes.)

'Not supportive'

"Stats Canada data out this morning was not supportive," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

Minneapolis-based Benson Quinn Commodities was even more gloomy.

"Expect exporters in both origination points to become much more aggressive as both Canada and Australia have the potential to move forward with burdensome carry-out level."

And Australia's wheat glut is more than a problem for prices of the grain itself, with the rain-depressed quality of the harvest meaning it is competing with


for feed buyers too.

"China has shown more interest in Australian wheat," US Commodities noted, an important observation given the focus that Chicago has on Chinese purchases, or not, of American corn.

'Drier for Argentina'

OK, bears had some straws to clutch, with a frost hitting parts of Colorado, Kansas and Nebraska, posing some threat to winter grain seedlings, although this was being downplayed by analysts.

And there is the, disputed, idea of South American weather threats hanging around.

"Extended forecasts are drier for Argentina and Southern Brazil. This could become a concern if warm temperatures and lack of rain persists," US Commodities said.


But it was really a reasonable day on outside markets, where the


eased, while both Wall Street


and Brent


stood 0.9% higher in late deals, which were given credit for helping grains recover early losses.

That, and technical ideas that the crops were, as many brokers noted, oversold.

Chicago wheat for March closed up 0.3% at $6.13 a bushel – 12.75 cents above its day low.

Corn for the same month revived from a 2011 low for a nearest-but-one contract of $5.80 a bushel to end at $5.96 ½ a bushel, up 0.9%.

In Europe, Paris wheat closed too early to by lifted by the late revival by its Chicago peer, ending down 0.3% at E176.75 a tonne, while London's May lot added all of £0.10 to £145.50 a tonne.

'Additional purchases are imminent'


also did less of a Lazarus act, but managed to recoup small losses to close up 0.3% at $11.29 ½ a bushel for January delivery.

The South American weather worries helped, as did the sanguine reaction by Canadian canola futures to the StatsCan crop upgrade.

Winnipeg canola for January closed up 20 cents at Can$503.20 a tonne.

Also Oil World, again, forecast a rise in Chinese soybean purchases, to replenish stocks, an idea questioned by trade data and Australia & New Zealand Bank analysis.

"Additional purchases are imminent in the near to medium term," Oil World said.

"With Chinese soybean stocks currently down sharply from a year earlier owing to recent low imports and another decline in the domestic soybean crop this season, imports have to be stepped up sizably during the remainder of the season."

'Disappointment for the bears'

Soft commodities, whose slightly early close in the last session spared them a sell-off inspired by the Standard & Poor's threat to downgrade a clutch of eurozone nations, may this time have been denied some of the late uplift in investor sentiment.

While raw


rose, it was by a modest 0.4% to 24.18 cents a pound for New York's March contract, despite some bullish ideas hanging around.

"We hear domestic prices in India are still firm, and the trade seem to be suggesting higher levels and perhaps India may be a disappointment for the bears," Thomas Kujawa at Sucden Financial said, also noting talk of end-user buying.

"Obviously, we are in a climate of one rating agency downgrade or another macro-economic release hitting the headlines and influencing the price action. But it seems the bulls might well have the short term momentum."

'Diminishing crop prospects'

New York


fell back 0.3% to 235.75 cents a pound for March, as investors took profits after a 3% rise in the last session, encouraged by the increase in stocks certified for delivery against Ice futures.

"Diminishing crop prospects in countries including Colombia have been viewed as bullish in the longer term but rising certified stocks have added near term pressure on prices," Lynette Tan at Phillip Futures said.


for March dropped to a three-year closing low of $2,168 a tonne in New York. It has been two weeks since the bean, under pressure from ideas of robust West African supplies, managed a gain.


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