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Evening markets: weather woes lift grains into long weekend

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It had to come, a crack at a well-known investment bank for putting the grumps into commodity markets last week – only for meteorological fears this week to send crops back up again.

"It appears that Goldman Sachs, prior to their [sell] recommendations, failed to speak to the weather office," David Sheppard, managing director at UK grain merchant Gleadell, said.

To be fair, Goldman's advice was aimed at metals and oil, rather than agricultural commodities, of which many are still lower than then. And the bank did highlight the potential for weather setbacks.

Still, it does highlight how fast the investment climate can switch in crop markets, when a weather market takes hold.

'Still dry'

And weather issues continued to take a grip of grain prices on Thursday, sending


up 1.9% in Chicago despite the prospect of a long weekend ahead, which might have been expected to urge caution.

The May lot failed – just – to record its first $8-a-bushel close of the month, ending at $7.99 ½ a bushel.

"Weather forecast is still dry for southern hard red winter wheat areas," Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

The forecasts were evident in a 1.4% rise to $9.32 ½ a bushel for Kansas-traded hard red winter wheat, with the better-traded July lot up 1.3% at $9.43 a bushel.

Minneapolis spring wheat for May ended 1.4% higher at $9.51 ½ a bushel, gaining a little ground on the July contract which gained 1.3% to $9.60 ¾ a bushel.

'Major development'

The forecasts of drier weather for


sowing, meanwhile, took a bit of a drubbing, with noting that one model was "developing a block in the jet stream over eastern Canada and Greenland".

"This feature, if it does develop, is a major development," the service added, in favouring cooler-than-normal temperatures across the country.

"It is too early to know for certain if this block feature is real. But if it is, the chances of seeing a drier and warmer May are not good."

Corn managed a 1.5% rise to $6.65 ½ a bushel for new crop December delivery, with the best-traded, old crop July contract adding 0.5% to $7.44 ½ a bushel, supported by weekly US export data which, at 857,285 tonnes were respectable, if towards the bottom end of expectations.

The May lot gained 0.6% to $7.37 ¼ a bushel.

Beans bounce



sales were hit a seven-week high of 555,300 tonnes, twice some trade forecasts, with an added boost in that more than half were destined for China, whose weakened demand for the oilseed of late has provoked questions.

Soybeans for July added 1.5% to $13.89 ¾ a bushel.



export sales weren't much to write home about, coming in negative for the old crop for a fourth successive week, signalling cancellations, the new crop at least had the support of dry weather in the southern US cotton areas, in the midst of sowings, besides weakened hopes for China too.

December cotton jumped 2.6% to 132.14 cents a pound in New York.

Dollar and Dow

Indeed, it has to be said that the default position for commodities was up, with good corporate results from the likes of Apple and General Electric encouraging a bit of risk taking.

Investors drove Wall Street's Dow Jones shares index to a 33-month high.

Meanwhile, the


fell to its lowest for nearly as long against a basket of currencies, so improving the competitiveness of assets such as crops on export markets.

And New York raw


rode the wave (eventually) to close up 1.1% at 25.48 cents a pound for May and 1.2% at 23.56 cents a pound for July, helped by some thoughts too that Brazilian prospects may not be as rosy as had been thought.



had less luck, shedding 1.6% to 294.55 cents a pound for New York's July arabica lot, which topped 300 cents in the last session for the first time since 1977.

Jurgens Bauer at PitGuru, who has been bullish, called time, noting the "surprise" delivery of 1,601 contracts against the expiring May lot.

"I think the rally is over done here," he said, adding that he was "looking to buy, but waiting for a dip to ease the overbought indicators".

'Home to roost'

Also on a downer were European grains, which got on the wrong side of dollar weakness, despite EU wheat sales of 281,000 tonnes this week showing an improvement in demand if not to heady levels of last month.

Total exports for 2010-11, as measured by export licences, have hit 16.2m tonnes, up 12.5% year on year.

Paris wheat for May ended 0.6% lower at E252.25 a tonne, while London wheat for the same month tumbled 3.5% from its record high to end at £210.00 a tonne, a fall blamed in part on profit-taking.

Technical factors also seem to have played a part, with co-operative Openfield attributing the contract's run-up this week in part "to shorts having to buy back their position if they are unable to tender wheat. The first tender day is May 3".

"Perhaps now we have some realisation that the UK has run out of wheat and the supply and demand numbers are coming home to roost," Openfield added.


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