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Evening markets: poor weather outlook ignites grain rally

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Where did all the bears go?

The concerns, over US growth, eurozone sovereign debt and suchlike, which have marred appetite for risk assets of late, were washed away amid a tide of upbeat sentiment, which drove London shares 1.1% higher and pries of commodities too.

New York

crude

soared 3.8% back above a barrel.

It wasn't clear exactly what sparked the shopping spree, although well-received results from computer maker Dell helped.

Tight Thai

Whatever, the drive to buy was supercharged on agricultural commodity markets by further deterioration in the weather outlook, for grains, and, for

sugar

, by those lingering concerns about Brazilian shipping delays.

"In Thailand too, things are getting tight as the Thai raw sugar premium for nearby delivery was reported to have traded at 180 pts over New York's July contract, the highest in two weeks," Nick Penney at Sucden Financial said.

New York's July lot stood 3.7% higher at 22.75 cents a pound, makings its chart look more and more like that a year ago, when May witnessed the end of a correction and the start of a sustained rally.

'Risks underestimated'

But even sugar's gains were amply trumped by grains.

Wheat

soared more than 6% in Chicago.

"We believe the market has been underestimating supply risk on both plantings and yields from adverse weather after the rather bearish picture painted in the May [US Department of Agriculture] Wasde [world crop supply and demand] report, which pointed to a strong move up in production," Sudakshina Unnikrishnan wrote as the rally unfolded.

Weather forecasts certainly turned against the farmer, with fears growing for conditions in just about all the major northern hemisphere producing countries - at a time when big crops are needed to replenish run-down inventories.

Dryness is setting in in Russia and Ukraine, having already damaged winter crops in the US southern Plains, China and northern Europe, where hopes are plummeting for France's crop.

Strategie Grains lowered its estimate for the wheat harvest in the European Union's top producer by some 1m tonnes, to below 35m tonnes, with Agritel pitching the harvest at 31.7m tonnes. Last year's crop was 35.6m tonnes.

In Germany, the second-ranked EU producer, Deutscher Raiffeisenverband forecast the wheat crop sliding to 22.3m tonnes from 24.1m tonnes because of the dry weather.

'No big planting windows'

In more northern parts of the US, including the Midwest, and into Canada, rain is still preventing sowings.

"Current forecasts do not look conducive to major gains in planted acreage. Wheat continues to gain support from slow planting pace in the northern plains," Benson Quinn Commodities said.

US Commodities added: "Heavy rains continue to hit the northern plains. The biggest impact will be on spring wheat and

corn

.

"Rains are in the central plains and will move through the Corn Belt every two-to-three days. No huge windows are seen for planting into June 1."

And at Country Futures, Darrell Holaday said: "Canada is going to turn wet again and that is supporting wheat."

Even soybeans...

Indeed, US sowing is going so badly that there is even talk of a dent to plantings of

soybeans

, the great hope for seedings, as a later-seeded crop.

"There is momentum in the belief that soybean acreage will go in too late given the weather outlook the next two weeks, which is wet," Mr Holaday said.

The talk has most definitely shifted from how big crops are likely to be to how much of their potential will be lost.

"Based on current forecasts one can make the case for a loss of up to 3m acres due to wet conditions," Benson Quinn said.

Price gains

The impact on prices was stark.

Chicago wheat soared 6.5% to .13 ½ a bushel for July delivery, with an hour or so of trading to go, with corn soaring 4.0% to .49 a bushel, just short of rising the maximum allowed by the exchange (which was touched earlier).

Soybeans for July gained 2.4% to .73 ½ a bushel.

In New York,

cotton

, whose hopes have also been dented by dry weather in the US south, and flooding around the Mississippi river, extended its gains.

The July contract added 3.1% to 159.85 cents a pound, up nearly 15 cents in three sessions.

By Agrimoney.com

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