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Evening markets: weather, Egypt stall march of crop sellers

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Markets owed a touch to Hollywood on Thursday, pulling back from the brink just as it seemed they would suffer another wipeout.

There was an impressive lift of adversaries to higher prices, including economic concerns in China, where an HSBC survey said manufacturing was slowing, and the US, where jobless claims data came in higher than expectations, speaking of soft employment creation.

The International Energy Agency said it would release 60m barrels to replace that lost from Libya, sending


down more than 4% in New York.

And, with Jean-Claude Trichet, the head of the European Central Bank, chipping in with concerns about the Greece destabilising the eurozone, the


gained more than 1%, making dollar-denominated assets, such as many crops, that much less competitive on export markets.

'Is this a warning?'

For agricultural commodities, the list goes on. US weekly export sales were below forecasts for




, if ahead of expectations for



And a Statistics Canada acreage report came in with far higher figures for sowing than had been expected, given the dismal spring sowing season, pegging wheat acres at 23.6m acres, 1.1m acres lower than in March, and lifting the canola figure, by 200,000 acres to 7.8m acres.

"The trade was braced for acres to be down 2m-3m acres on wheat and 1m on canola," US Commodities noted.

"Is this a warning for US acres?" the broker added, a reference to a key report due next week on America's sowings.

'Corn condition worse'

And as the icing on the bearish cake, weather looked pretty benign too, with rain hitting many drier areas, and a ridge of hot weather forecast for the US "now looking less threatening", the broker said.

Or is it? "The weather continues to bring a lot of debate to this marketplace," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said, noting that one weather model "is aggressively showing a high pressure ridge in Central US and the Midwest in the next week".

"It also indicating that the ridge will hold on through the 8-to-14 day period," he added noting that already "the corn condition in the south continues to get worse".

Stronger crush

Furthermore, Egypt, the top wheat importer, bought 240,000 tonnes of wheat through its latest tender, the biggest order since December and more than many traders had expected, given the prospect of Russia getting back into exports and so weakening prices.

And, also on the demand front, the official US soybean crush figure for May came in at 128m bushels, down 4.9m bushels year on year but some 1.5m-2.5m bushels ahead of market forecasts.

"The May soybean crush report indicates that soybean oil and meal consumption are progressing a little more rapidly than projected, resulting in a slightly higher rate of soybean crush than expected," Darrel Good, agricultural economist at the University of Illinois, said.

Price revivals

There was enough uncertainty among bears, at any rate, to prompt markets to pull back most of the ground lost in an early wave of selling.

Wheat for July closed up 1.7% at $6.49 a bushel in Chicago, near its day high and $0.43 above its day low. New crop contracts did not make it back into positive territory, but at least pared losses.

It was similar for corn, which ended 0.4% higher at $6.80 ½ a bushel for July, but down 0.7% at $6.46 a bushel for the new crop December contract.

Soybeans for July ended lower, down 0.9% at $13.17 ¾ a bushel, dented by that StatsCan figure for rival oilseed canola, but that was a $0.25 above the day low.


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