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Evening markets:crops buckle under harvest, weather pressure

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Monday was an odd one, in terms of the categories of "risk on" days, favouring assets such as shares and commodities and "risk off" sessions, better for bonds, which have characterised markets since the world economic downturn.

Some riskier assets managed gains, with Wall Street stocks more than 1% higher in late deals, and London shares closing up 0.4%, and many soft commodities, such as cocoa, closing higher too.

Furthermore, the

dollar

, which has become an indicator of market fear, fell, shedding 0.4% against a basket of currencies, a shift which should in theory have boosted the appeal of dollar-denominated assets such as many commodities too, making them cheaper as exports.

But most raw materials struggled to record gains. And not just in the agriculture sector, with

oil

split between negative Western Texas Intermediate crude, down 0.6% at $90.65 a barrel in late deals, and Brent up 0.8% back above $108 a barrel.

Copper

closed below $9,000 a tonne in London.

Inflation fears

One reason for commodities' particular weakness was China, and growing analysis that they may curb imports of raw materials to keep prices down, even at the expense of some economic growth.

Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, said that it would be difficult for the country to hit its growth target of 4% inflation this year, but added that price rises could be kept below 5%.

Technical factors didn't help either, with copper falling down though its 200-day moving average, a key indicator for chart followers, as did the CRB commodities index.

As did Chicago's July

corn

lot, for that matter, falling below the 200-day moving average of some $6.56 a bushel, although it did manage to retake this point by the end of trade.

'The real issue...'

But crops had their particular reasons for selling too, with

wheat

investors, for instance, reluctant to call time on falling prices at a time when northern hemisphere harvests are ramping up, so increasing supplies.

And this at a time when Russia is still clearing its silos from the last harvest, now that exports are, from Friday, to be reallowed.

"The real issue is all the cheap wheat that Russia is trying to put in the world market. They are offering wheat $20 a tonne below world values," US Commodities said.

European contracts, closer geographically to Russia, suffered particularly, also making up some ground not lost in the last session. Furthermore, heat in France, which has been viewed as worsening prospects for a drought-challenged crop, was this time viewed as helping early grains harvesting.

Paris's November lot tumbled 4.2% to E187.50 a tonne, the contract's weakest finish since October.

London wheat for November ended down 3.1% at a three-month low of £158.50 a tonne.

Wild times ahead?

In Chicago, wheat for July ended 2.0% lower at $6.22 ¾ a bushel, re-expanding its, atypical, discount to corn, which at least gained some support, from a sale of 230,000 tonnes of the grain to unknown destination, as announced through the USDA's daily reporting system.

This gave some legs to persistent speculation that China had stepped in to buy US corn (as it did soybeans) a price-sensitive topic.

Furthermore, there are some nerves ahead of what key data, on US grain inventories and spring sowings, due on Thursday may provide.

Sure, the market has been acting like one "that is not at all worried about the stocks of anything, especially not corn" – one that believes the US "has more corn than the numbers represent,"Darrell Holaday at Country Futures said.

"But if such beliefs turn out misplaced, it will be wild after Thursday's numbers," he added.

Better exports

Still, with fears over a heatwave in the Corn Belt under control, corn for July managed to recover only to $6.60 ¾ a bushel, down 1.4% on the day. The new crop December lot fell 0.8% to $6.26 ¾ a bushel.

Funds were estimated sellers of 8,000 corn lots.

Soybeans

at least continued their relatively firm performance, adding 0.7% to $13.29 ¾ a bushel for July delivery, helped by the sale of a further 130,000 tonnes of the oilseed by the US to China, and a pick-up in American weekly exports too.

Exports, as measured by inspections, doubled to 8.7m bushels, week on week.

Elastic cotton

In New York,

cotton

did a reasonable job of recovery, as traders took a less downbeat view of a cut by China to import duties for some products, a factor which sent prices tumbling on the Zhengzhou exchange on the prospect of cheaper import supplies.

Still, maybe these will come from the US? New York cotton for July closed down 2.0% at 162.00 cents a pound, recovering more than half its intraday losses, with the new crop December lot managing to edge higher to close at 121.99 cents a pound, up 0.07 cents.

And

cocoa

for July added 1.3% to $2,995 a tonne in New York, and 1.7% to £1,899 a tonne in London, its best finish for more than a month, on reports of a decline in quality of latest beans being brought in by farmers in Ivory Coast, the top producer and exporter.

Sugar

managed to recover some group to end mixed, despite downbeat comments from Barclays Capital on the prospect of raised Indian supplies damaging production.

New York's soon-to-expire July lot closed up 0.9% at 27.80 cents a pound, but the better traded October contract fell 0.4% to 25.91 cents a pound.

By Agrimoney.com

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