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Evening markets: weather fears boost grains, but softs sag

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There are some who believed that Chicago's new trading hours, extended to 21 hours a day, would lead to more volatility, as volumes were spread over longer periods, allowing greater scope for small orders to swing values.

Whether it was down to the extra hours or not, the day certainly brought its share of price swings.

Corn

for July started higher but stood at $6.29 ½ a bushel at the end of the electronic trading session at 20:00 UK time (14:00 Chicago time), down 0.6% on Friday's close.

The old crop lot, while feeling an upward tug from

wheat

, was undermined by US weekly export data, as measured by cargo inspections, at 23.3m bushels, below forecasts for 24.0-27.7m bushels.

Wetter in Russia?

Chicago wheat itself traded a range of nearly $0.40 a bushel, in both negative and positive territory, before settling down at $6.99 ¼ a bushel for the July contract, up 0.8% on the day.

Early on the grain felt the boost from further concerns over Russia's winter grain prospects, only for a wetter forecast to ease them a touch.

"The early strength in the session was continued short covering by the funds but a wetter outlook for former Soviet Union in the overnight weather models inspired profit-taking with wheat market some $0.30 off the highs of the session," Benson Quinn Commodities said.

Agitel noted that, in recent days, "many regions in Ukraine have benefited from rain. These rains should continue in the coming days and even reach the south west of Russian where the production potential is worrying."

'Stealing yield potential'

But a revival in prices later was helped by a downgrade by Ukraine's Hydromet centre to its forecast for the domestic harvest, saying rain had missed some regions.

Rabobank cut its forecasts for Russia's wheat crop and exports, even if it remained relatively downbeat on prices.

Furthermore, prices revived on ideas that the US Department of Agriculture's weekly crop progress report will unveil a drop of at least 2 points in the percentage of the US winter wheat crop rated in "good" or "excellent" health, following dryness in many areas.

"The weather has turned warm and dry and is now stealing yield potential," US Commodities said.

"The central and western plains will be very hot this week. Kansas, South Dakota, and Nebraska will all have temperatures that approaches or moves over 100 degrees Fahrenheit."

'Building concern over dryness'

And that was the case a little for new crop corn, and soybeans, too.

Not that the USDA report is expected to show US corn in anything else but strong condition, with traders expecting 70% of the crop to be rated good or excellent, feeding on generally decent soil moisture levels left over from earlier rains.

But the "heat in the South is making us concerned that the USDA's record corn yield of 166 bushels per acre a may be too lofty", US Commodities said.

The outlook certainly looks less helpful.

"The bottom line remains one of building concern over dryness in the southern and eastern Midwest during the next two weeks," World Weather forecast.

"Moisture stress is already an issue in south eastern Missouri, southern Illinois, extreme south western Indiana, Kentucky and areas southward into the Delta.

"Rainfall this week will be minimal in the region and that will likely maintain a need for significant rain."

'Major concern'

As an extra concern, the dryness in northern China is not, currently, being repaired either.

Sure, the North China Plain received "limited" rains over the weekend, Mike O'Dea at FCStone noted.

"But forecasts continue to look dry, and this is a major concern for the trade."

Corn for December added 0.4% to $5.39 a bushel, with the November soybean contract adding 1.2% to $13.03 ½ a bushel.

July soybeans lagged, gaining 0.3% to $14.09 ¾ a bushel.

Coffee off the boil

The price gains in Chicago contrasted with declines in New York soft commodities, which failed to draw comfort from rising grains, or increasing share values, or indeed a falling

dollar

, which makes dollar-denominated assets including many ags that much more competitive.

Arabica

coffee

beans, while viewed as the "most undervalued" soft commodity by Rabobank, dropped a further 2.2% to 175.15 cents a pound for July delivery, sapped by losses in

robusta

coffee in London.

Robusta, which has been by far the better performer of late, set an eight-month high, for a nearest-but one contract, of $2,237 a tonne for July delivery, only to end at $2,162 a tonne, down 2.5% on the day.

The decline was attributed to waning expectations of a market squeeze, as supplies from second-ranked producers (behind Vietnam) such as Indonesia come on line.

'New York consensus'

And raw

sugar

eased 0.4% to 20.38 cents a pound for July, on negative comment echoing around the market following last week's New York sugar week.

"The 'New York consensus' as far as we overheard was somewhere between 16-18 cents a pound," Thomas Kujawa at Sucden Financial said.

"The trade seemed to suggest there is selling to come from Brazil in regular abundance over the summer and there is no real urgency [for holders of short positions] to take profits just yet.

"Once again it was hard to argue from the bullish side with the weight of argument from the bears."

By Agrimoney.com

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