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Evening markets: prospect of US acres data edges corn ahead

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Just what has the latest US crop insurance data got in store?

That was a question the


market asked itself on Wednesday, with a US Department of Agriculture agency expected on the morrow to release updated data on how many acres American farmers claimed on, because of the likes of being unable to plant during the wet spring.

The answer was give corn bulls the benefit of the doubt and end a topsy turvy day for futures on the topsy side.

Chicago's December lot closed up 0.2% at $7.24 ¼ a bushel, nearly 8 cents above its intraday (and three-week) low.

Yield talk

Sure, there was plenty for bears to get their teeth into, like rumours of better-than-expected crops in Illinois and Iowa, top US corn producing states.

"A story that has not gained much attention over the last couple of days is the reports out of central/northern Illinois and Iowa that indicate corn yields are as good as or better than expected," Benson Quinn Commodities said.

Rival broker US Commodities, adding Missouri to the list, said that "earlier planted crops would have had a better chance of missing the extreme heat during pollination".

And there were demand concerns too, like weekly ethanol data putting production at 879,000 barrels a day, down 17,000 barrels a day on the previous figure.

'Needs to be watched'

"That is about 5m gallons below the average needed to reach the USDA projection," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

"It is early in the crop year, but that number needs to be watched."

And he flagged soft US corn exports of late, in the face of bumper Argentina stocks of the grain and China's forecast of a record 182.5m-tonne harvest, besides a decline in demand from the US broiler sector.

"The poultry industry continues to contract with egg sets solidly down 7% in the last month."

'Salivating bulls'

However, US Commodities highlighted the importance of the USDA Farm Service Agency's imminent release of "updated insurance acreage by crop and state including updated prevent plant acres".

Such statistics will be used by the USDA in revising next month its estimate of the number of acres US growers will harvest – amid widespread expectations of a cut to take account of the wet spring and Missouri River flooding.

"This will have bulls salivating if there is a significant decrease in harvested acres," the broker said.

"This may be a reason for support later in Wednesday's trading session."

Discount pull

Corn's positive close spilled over into Chicago


too, if only by virtue of the latter's discomfort at its unusual discount.

The December wheat lot closed up 0.4% to $7.04 ½ a bushel, closing the gap by all of 0.75 cents.

The rest of the wheat complex was actually weaker, sapped by talk of rain for drought-ridden hard red winter wheat areas in the US South (although there are plenty of doubts about how sufficient this will prove in enabling sowings of the 2012 crop).

Furthermore, the North American spring wheat harvest is ticking along nicely and, on the demand side, US wheat was notable by its absence – again – in the latest tender by Egypt, a show of its lack of competitiveness with Russian grain.

Kansas hard red winter wheat fell 1.3% to $7.92 a bushel for December delivery, its first close below $8 a bushel for a month, with Minneapolis spring wheat shedding 1.4% to $8.64 ¾ a bushel.

The weakness was felt in Europe too, despite French wheat getting close in the Egyptian tender to Russian, which won a massive 420,000-tonne order.

Paris wheat for November closed down 0.5% at E202.00 a tonne, with London's November lot shedding 0.3% to £164.75 a tonne.

'Killing frost'

As for Chicago


, there was hope after reports of a pretty hard freeze in Canada overnight.

"Temperatures in Saskatoon and Alberta were both recorded at 27-30 degrees [Fahrenheit] for an extended period," Matthew Pierce at PitGuru said, terming it a "killing frost".

The freeze extended into the north east corner of North Dakota and the north west of Minnesota too, "but not for long, so the damage should be minimal here versus Canada which should see a good hit to


", the rapeseed variant.

Further frosts are expected too, potentially for Iowa, where noted one weather model showing temperatures "getting down into the middle and upper 20s [Fahrenheit] across the north-west third" of the state, while another foresaw temperatures barely getting to freezing point.

Vulnerable crop

A freeze is viewed with particular caution for soybeans, as a later developing crop.

"Much of the crop planted after the June 15 date would have adversely affected by a frost/freeze event anytime over the course of the next couple of weeks," Benson Quinn said.

Still, canola took such talk in its strike, shedding 0.4% to Can$560.90 a tonne in Winnipeg, with selling attributed to technical factors.

Soybeans eased 0.5% to $13.82 ¾ a bushel in Chicago, for November delivery, after approaching $14 a bushel earlier.

Coffee 'shake'

Many soft commodities were downbeat to, including


which, after a muted reaction to Conab data on Tuesday showing the country's 2011-12 harvest at 43.15m bags, well into selling mode this time.

Conab had, in May, pegged the crop at 43.5m bags.

The market was still feeling the impact of Friday's price slump speeded by the expiry of coffee options, Jurgens Bauer at PitGuru said.

"I sense coffee may attempt a shake," he added, as New York's December lot headed towards a close down 1.7% at 265.70 cents a pound.

But raw


was helped by late buying to close up 0.3% to 29.70 cents a pound for October, with Czarnikow stressing the potential for further production dangers ahead, and the market looking ahead to its own options expiry on Thursday.


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