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Evening markets: soybeans and wheat lead ag commodity rally

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Two agricultural commodities entered Monday accompanied by warnings that huge positions held speculators may bode ill for prices.

But only one of them, raw


, folded.

"Fund support is not limitless and in the end, they will have to sell what they have bought," Nick Penney Sucden Financial said early on.

"It is not out of the question that we could see a sharp drop in a session as a result of stops being elected in a bunch. The question is in the timing."

'Sugar got whipped'

The tumble happened but minutes later.

If rains for dry cane fields in Brazil, the top producing country, looked a setback to bulls, India's decision to allow an extra 1m tonnes of white sugar exports, taking the total for 2011-12 so far to 3m tonnes, was a body blow.

Sure, there had been suggestions before, but the news proved enough excuse to the end New York's May contract down 3.3% to close at 24.78 cents a pound.

"Sugar got whipped around on [the] news, spreads were slammed," Scott Briggs at Australia & New Zealand Bank said.

If there is hope for bulls, it has that "we've seen some reasonable sell-offs to Indian export news of late, only for the market to bounce", he added.

'Fund buying dominates'

Certainly, they remained in control of


- the other crop on the watch list re: investment positions, which for large funds and speculators have hit a record high in Chicago, regulatory data late on Friday showed.

Indeed, funds only bought more – an estimated 9,000 contracts.

"Fund buying in the soybean complex continues to dominate this market," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

The buying was supported, as ever of late, by further fears for the Brazilian crop, on which Oil World said it could yet issue a further downgrade, as the influential analysis group forecast prices will "probably rally towards $14-15 a bushel or above sometime in the next four-to-eight weeks".

"The forecast for a smaller Brazilian soybean crop, almost on a daily basis, is providing buyers with reasons to hold long positions," Paul Georgy at broker Allendale said.

FCStone said: "Smaller South American production talk and Chinese demand has brought in significant fund buying into the market."

'Fastest on record'

Then there was the idea that the oilseed still needs to improve its affections to US farmers, who are either already apparently planting


at breakneck speed, or intend to, taking advantage of good sowing conditions.

"Talking to producers over the weekend, they are either done with field work waiting to seed or are already seeded waiting for emergence," Matt Pierce, the trader, said.

"Very few fields are untilled in central Illinois. It remains very early but the 30-day temp models promote a very fast pace of planting."

US Commodities said: "This year is on pace to be the fastest on record" for corn sowings.

'Soybeans are gaining'

On top of this US soybean exports, while hardly booming in the week to Thursday, were, at 24.9m bushels as measured by cargo inspections, at least higher week on week, unlike corn shipments.

Corn exports fell by more than 1m bushels to 22.2m bushels – half their levels of the same week a year before, US Department of Agriculture data showed.

Soybeans for May closed up 1.0% at $13.79 ½ a bushel, a six-month high for a spot contract.

Corn for May fell 1.4% to $6.37 ¾ a bushel.

As for the battle for acres, new crop November soybeans added 0.5% to $13.29 ½ a bushel, increasing their advantage over new crop December corn, which fell 0.8% to $5.53 ¼ a bushel, to a ratio of 2.40 – the highest for a year.

"Corn is still more attractive but soybeans are gaining," Mr Pierce said.

'Dry weather forecast...'

As to which of the pair


would follow, the upward course was helped by further fears for the lack of rainfall in the west of the European Union, the top producer of the grain.

"The forecasts in Europe remain dry and that is prompting new buying in the wheat market," Country Futures' Darrell Holaday said.

"Dry weather forecast for France and Germany has pushed European futures markets higher," FCStone said.

Indeed, in Europe itself, Paris wheat for May rose 1.5% to E217.25 a tonne, with London's May contract soaring 2.9% to £177.15 a tonne, the highest for a spot contract in nine months.

Benson Quinn Commodities said: "US soft wheat is now seen as the cheapest in the world."

… although not as cheap as it was, with the May contract ending up 0.8% at $6.59 ½ a bushel, rebuilding quite a premium over fellow grain corn.

Cocoa concerns

Back in New York,


for May managed a 1.4% gain to 90.91 cents a pound, helped by an improved technical picture, after the contract closed the last session above both 10-day and 20-day moving average lines.

As an extra technical temptation to buy, US regulatory data showed speculators' net short positions at a multi-year high, raising doubts about how much unfulfilled selling pressure was left out there.



closed up 1.0% at $2,331 a tonne for May delivery, helped by talk of a dearth of rain in Ivory Coast, the major producing country.

Certainly, cocoa is one of the few agricultural commodities favoured by a La Nina, for the rain it brings to Ivory Coast. And the latest La Nina is generally seen as an ex-weather pattern.


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