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Evening markets: grain rally falters despite ethanol record

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Have grain investors factored in enough of a risk premium for now?

It was beginning to look that was on Thursday, as


ended an eight-day winning streak.


, whose eight-day winning streak was spiked in the last session, fell further back from $12 a bushel.

In part, some ideas of rain in Argentina blotted the crops' copybooks.

Sure, the near-term outlook isn't looking so good for farmers with temperatures over the next week set to "continue to run hotter than normal across all of central and north west Argentina" said.

"Rainfall will run at 25% of normal or less across all of central, eastern and northern Argentina except for the far north west portions up near Bolivia."

Rain in Argentina?

But further ahead, crops tested by too little rain and too much heat (like much of the Corn Belt's this summer) may receive some relief.

"Models are indicating a rain event about January 8 and that is resulting in some long profit-taking," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

As if investors did not face other incentives to close positions, there being a long weekend ahead, meaning investors staying in have three day to wait - in a weather market - before being able to trade.

And it is the end of the month too. Month ends are often seen as periods when investors trim positions to tidy up portfolios and raise cash for bonuses or investor refunds, especially when it is a quarter and year end too.

"Investors may be looking to clean up the books," US Commodities said.

'You will want to be out of January length'

Furthermore, investors in soybeans faced the extra incentive of the start tomorrow of the expiry process of Chicago's near-term, January lot, and the potential for physical delivery.

"Tomorrow is first notice day on the January contracts," Paul Georgy at broker Allendale said.

"While I don't believe there are going to be any more soybean, soymeal or soyoil deliveries than a typical delivery period, you will want to be out of January length by the end of today's session."

Mr Holaday added that "technically, the corn and soybean markets have become overbought and due for a correction lower after the strong move up in the last two weeks".

Ethanol record



was hardly an encouragement, making some ground on a disappointing auction of Italian bonds. Unlike on Wednesday, Italy fell E1.5bn short of fund-raising target, of E8.5bn.

Nor a help was talk of weakening basis price, as farmers and traders concerned that weak conditions might return sold into the rally.

January soybeans dropped 0.9% to $11.87 ½ a bushel, with the better-traded March lot closing down 0.9% at $11.97 a bushel.

Corn for March fell 0.7% to $6.38 a bushel, getting some support at least from a rise of 19,000 barrels, week on week, to a record 962,000 barrels in US ethanol production.

This feat had initially helped a rally in corn prices, to $6.45 ¾ a bushel, with technical disappointment setting in when the upswell stopped short of the last session's high.

Diverging wheats



, lacking any ethanol support, dropped 0.9%to $6.45 ¼ a bushel, ending its own eight-day winning streak.

That was in contrast to the 0.5% rise to E194.25 a tonne in Paris wheat, for March, encouraged by the weaker euro, which made the grain more competitive on export markets.

(And this at a time, after all, when Algeria, usually a top French customer, is apparently preferring to buy wheat across the Atlantic thanks to bargain prices in Argentina.)

London wheat for May added 0.7% to £153.50 a tonne.

Mixed softs

Among soft commodities,


continued its late year revival, adding 1.1% to 91.63 cents a pound for New York's March lot.



continued its downward run, shedding 2.3% to $2,083 a tonne for New York's March contract, with the apparently strengthening La Nina effect seen in South American dryness a boost to the main cocoa producers of Ivory Coast and Ghana in bringing rain.


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