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Evening markets: modest harvest hopes prop up corn price

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How much worse will the US

corn

crop get?

The four-point decline in the proportion of the crop rated in "good" or "excellent" health in an official report overnight was the steepest fall in three years, and took the fall in two weeks to a sizeable seven points.

And there is mixed news on prospects for a crop which is the focus of Chicago, given the heatwave damage at a time when US supplies are already thin.

The weather forecast is "simply not wet enough in the forecast to break but too wet to rally", Jerry Stowell at Country Futures said.

Benson Quinn Commodities put it that "forecasts offer something for the bears and the bulls".

The bears have the prospect of rains on the northern Plains and northern Midwest late this week. The bulls have the "new round of heat" expected to follow for the central Midwest, and with more southerly areas set for more in the way of parching.

Currency tailwind

Whatever, one decider on grains' final direction was the lack of fresh information on the US budget talks.

That was ignored on many risk markets. Shares edged higher in Frankfurt and London, for example, and posted only small losses in late deals on Wall Street.

However, it helped weaken the

dollar

, by 0.8% against a basket of currencies, improving the affordability of dollar-denominated assets if buying in euros, Swiss francs or so on.

Oil

ticked higher, by 0.3%.

Magic number

But another was the figures that are beginning to emerge putting numbers on what deteriorated US corn means in terms of lost bushels.

The arbiter will be the next US Department of Agriculture Wasde crop report, due on August 11, which may also include updates on some acreage numbers, which were difficult to get right first time because of the late sowings season.

But private analysts "will start to release production estimates next week with rumbling in the trade that corn production could be estimated below 13.0bn bushels", Benson Quinn said.

That implies a loss of at least 471m bushels, which when US supplies are already seen small would indeed support higher prices.

And, aided also by the USDA also announcing the sale of a further 200,000 tonnes of corn to Japan, the grain added 1.8% in Chicago for December delivery.

Tender defeat

The weather outlook, and a deteriorated condition, also helped

soybean

futures add 1.2% to $13.88 ¾ a bushel for November delivery, with the important month for the oilseed of August creeping nearer.

Wheat

lagged this time, pulled higher by corn, but feeling the weight of another loss at an Egyptian grain tender – where the honours went to Russia, again – besides the clearance by Argentina of a further 450,000 tonnes of the grain for export, and some promising results from a closely-watched US spring wheat tour.

The Wheat Quality Council tour's initial assessment of hard red spring wheat in North Dakota, the top growing state, saw yields better than the two previous years.

Chicago wheat closed up 0.8% at $6.94 a bushel.

'Price risk'

That even lagged European wheat contracts which, helped by harvest fears, made ground against a strengthened euro and a loss in the Egyptian grain tender.

"Flat price quality premiums/basis are beginning to build across Europe as an ill-defined and delayed harvest across Europe drives the market to start pricing in some of the associated price risk," Jaime Nolan at FCStone's Dublin office said.

Further showers are expected for southern Germany, although the outlook for more northerly regions is more benign.

Paris wheat for November closed up 1.6% at E194.25 a tonne, with London's November lot adding 1.4% to £162.50 a tonne.

Thriving fibre

Still, even those rises were small beer compared with what

cotton

managed, closing up the exchange limit of 4.0 cents in New York for the December contract, taking it to 110.76 cents a pound.

A revival in the fibre has been expected by many traders, given that futures have become technically oversold and liable to an upward correction on bullish news.

(Not that there seemed any obvious snippets on Tuesday, with the rating of the US crop showing a one-point improvement to 39% in the proportion seen in good or excellent condition.)

'Effort to build momentum'

Other soft commodities couldn't match that for gains, with

sugar

setback a little by data from Unica, the cane industry group, pegging output in Brazil's key Center South district in the first half of July above that a year before.

The October lot ended 0.7% higher at 30.94 cents a pound, below its highs. Interestingly, concerns seem to be progressing towards later dates, with the May 2012 lot soaring 3.0% to 28.11 cents a pound.

New York

coffee

also showed signs of pulling a series of positive sessions together, adding 0.8% to 244.95 cents a pound for September delivery.

"Coffee appears willing to try and consolidate in an effort to build some momentum," Jurgens Bauer at PitGuru said.

Fear over a frost in Brazil, the top producing country, "has become less of a factor as we are now in the beginning stages of the seasonal rally", he added.

"But don't expect this market to generate excitement until traders see prices either above 252 cents a pound or below 236 cents a pound."

By Agrimoney.com

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