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Evening markets: weather fears help grains to positive close

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The boost to risk assets from the Greek accord waned a little as Monday wore on, and some doubts emerged as to whether Athens had done enough to secure a E130bn bailout package.

A meeting of eurozone ministers on Tuesday will discuss whether to accept the proposal, and there is some talk ahead of the session that they need clarification on matters such as how Greece will fulfil plans to cut labour costs by 15%, and its level of support among political leaders who may have to keep programmes in check in the future.

Antonis Samaras, the head of Greece's New Democracy party, seen as a likely prime minister of the future, has signalled plans to renegotiate the deal.

The safe haven of the

dollar

recouped some losses to stand 0.3% lower in late deals, when Brent

crude

was up 0.5%, surrendering half gains earlier in the day and back below $118 a barrel.

The

Vix

"gauge of fear" volatility index recovered to 19.11, from levels below 18 earlier.

'Bullish news behind us'

And some of that feeling was evident in agricultural commodity markets too, where New York raw

sugar

reversed early gains to close 0.2% lower at 24.64 cents a pound for March delivery.

Morgan Stanley did little to help the sweetener by saying it was "bearish" on the sweetener, citing estimates of a production surplus of 7.69m tonnes this season, more than many other analysts are counting on, and 4.93m tonnes in 2012-13.

"The bulk of bullish news is behind us and increased production out of Thailand, Russia, and India could push supplies even higher," the bank added, estimating prices will average 22 cents a pound over 2011-12 rather than the 24 cents a pound futures prices would imply.

Next season, the price will average 19 cents a pound, well below the futures curve suggesting 24 cents a pound.

'Long-tailed negative impact'

The bank said it was "bearish" on

cotton

too, warning of "falling Asian demand and increased planted area".

It added that "substitution with synthetic fibres will likely have a long-tailed negative impact on global demand."

And as extra pressures, Chinese imports fell last month, by 59% from December, while a key survey showed US cotton growers intending a 7.5% dip in sowings, well below market estimates.

Still, with ideas of bargain hunters around, and the US Department of Agriculture chipping in with an outline estimate of a 17% dip in cotton plantings, New York's March contract ended up 1.0% at 91.52 cents a pound, in the middle area of its trading range for the day.

'Weather is more concerning'

What was needed for a more sustainable gains was, say, a weather scare.

Which

corn

and

soybeans

had, ensuring that Chicago repeated its knack of the last three months or so, bar perhaps a week or two, of positive starts to the week.

In drought-tested southern Brazil, "potential rains did not develop in this region late last week", Benson Quinn Commodities said, adding that the area, "much of Argentina, are expected to be dry for the bulk of this week".

"Soybean markets have shown some strength due to less rain in southern Brazil than expected," Paul Georgy at Allendale said.

US Commodities said: "The weather in southern Brazil is more concerning. The drier forecast in this area again has the trade concerned that a lower soybean crop may occur.

"Talk has again emerged of a sub 69m-tonne Brazil crop," compared with the 72.0m tonnes the USDA forecast last week.

'Likely be well supported'

Soybeans, in particular, had support too from China's delegation to the US this week to sign trade agreements.

"The Chinese Premier usually makes an announcement of large soybean purchases at that time." Mr Georgy said.

"Trade will likely be well supported until this announcement. Just remember in the past they were [in the past] not all new purchases."

Soybeans for March closed up 2.1% at $12.52 a bushel – the highest for a spot contract in nearly four months.

Chinese imports to rise?

Corn could not do so well, despite the USDA's best effort to talk up China's import potential for this crop too.

In an annual report detailing 10-year estimates, the department doubled its long-term estimate for Chinese purchases.

Still, with its fate in part on the line thanks to South American weather too, the March lot added 1.2% to $6.39 ½ a bushel, successfully closing back above its 100-day moving average.

Chicago vs Paris

Which Chicago

wheat

did too, if with a cushion of less than 2 cents, by jumping 2.8% to $6.41 ¼ a bushel for March delivery.

The grain was helped by the first US victory in six months in a tender by Egypt, the top wheat importer, confirming the status of American supplies as world competitive, undercutting Argentine, French and Russian offers.

European contracts did not take so well to being outcompeted by grain from the other side of the Atlantic, besides facing a firm euro too. Paris wheat for March closed down 1.8% at E206.75 a tonne.

London wheat for May ended down 1.3% at £164.60 a tonne.

By Agrimoney.com

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