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Evening markets: late bounce gives crop bulls some solace

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Agricultural commodity bulls got a little solace in the end.

"The weekly close is going to be very important to technical traders," Paul Georgy at Allendale said earlier on, as Chicago


futures headed for a one-month low, and


to its weakest for four months.


slumped to $2.93 ¾ a bushel at one point, the cheapest for a spot contract for 14 months.

But a late rebound put a far brighter hue onto a picture which had looked so bearish for grains.

Thanksgiving factor

The revival was in part attributed to improvement in the eurozone sovereign debt picture, reflected in falling bond yields for countries such as Spain which have been feared the next to slip into crisis.

Wall Street


moved back into positive territory in late deals, while the safe haven of the


remained on the back foot, down 0.3% against a basket of currencies.

However, there were some crop specific reasons too, sure, partly technical.

"The weaker dollar and oversold conditions should temper at least some of the recent selling," Benson Quinn Commodities said earlier on.

"If the funds do not come back into the corn market on the sell side early in the session, I expect existing shorts to take some profits over the course of today's session."

Especially with Thanksgiving ahead. Nick Penney at Sucden Financial (albeit talking of


) said: "For some, Thanksgiving is a whole week off, so anybody short is likely to cover and enjoy Thanksgiving turkey."

'Record low emergence'

Such a dynamic is likely to have played a part in


recovery to close at $5.98 ¼ a bushel for December delivery, up 0.9% on the day.

But there are some fundamental supports too, with continued dryness in Ukraine.

"The Ukraine remains very dry expanding the drought situation since early August," GrainAnalyst trader Matthew Pierce said.

"Their record low emergence for this time of year is alarming for their producers."

On the demand side, Benson Quinn added that "traditional


buyers continue to favour putting wheat in the feed ration".

'Spread has narrowed'

Which isn't such good news for corn futures, of course, especially when US exports are seen fading too.

But there was some better news on that front, with South Korea buying 70,000 tonnes of US corn overnight.

And US corn prices have got closer to international competitiveness, especially against Ukraine, which has been notably taking American custom.

"The spread has narrowed. US corn is now about 18 cents a bushel higher than Black Sea corn," US Commodities said.

'Very positive'

Furthermore, domestic demand remains firm too,

"The cattle on feed report this afternoon should show cattle supplies up 4% over the year ago. The feeding margins on livestock remain positive," US Commodities said.

"Ethanol production is very positive," with a margin of 60 cents plus a gallon.

Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said: "Despite weakness in crude oil and unleaded gas, ethanol values continue to climb with the Midwest cash indexes climbing almost .09 yesterday and are all well above $3.00 per gallon."

US imports from Argentina?

The trouble is whether the strong basis levels arising from this demand, and slow farmer selling, are encouraging users to look abroad.

There is as rumour going around Chicago that the US, having bought Brazilian and UK wheat, has purchased Argentine corn too.

The speculation has it that south eastern US users made the purchase, although, while hearing the talk from several sources, has been unable to verify it.

Whatever, December corn rebounded from a low of $6.01 ½ a bushel, but not by enough to end in positive territory, closing down 0.7% at $6.10 ¼ a bushel.

The better-traded March lot shed 0.8% to $6.18 a bushel.

'Opportunities for moisture'


, meanwhile, recovered to close flat at $11.68 ¼ a bushel for January delivery, amid improved ideas for weather in South America, where dry forecasts have stoked concerns of setbacks to the La Nina pattern.

"South American regions, that have been trending a little drier, are offered a few opportunities for moisture over the course of the next couple of weeks," Benson Quinn said.

But no such luck for


, which followed up a limit down close for the December lot with a further drop of 4.7% to a 14-month closing low of 94.81 cents a pound, amid fears for consumption, and raising technical concerns that previous support levels around 95 cents a pound had not held.


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