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Evening markets:toxic cocktail poisons crops' bullish spirit

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Where did all the bulls go?

Chased out of town by a hostile mix of: uncertainty over a US budget deal (with default and downgrade looming next week if an agreement is not reached); poor US economic growth data of 1.3% on an annualised basis, compared with expectations of 1.8%; and a Moody's threat to downgrade Spain.

Shares were up against it, with London stocks ending down 1.0% and Wall Street stocks also in negative territory.

West Texas Intermediate

crude

was nearly 2% lower as of 16:50 GMT (17:50 UK time), to $95.57 a barrel.

'Ring of fire thunderstorms'

And as if that was not enough for grain markets to deal with, the weather outlook for US crops looked ever-less likely to follow up this month's heatwave with a second whammy.

"Rains overnight hit the dry areas of Michigan and part of Kansas and northern Missouri," US Commodities said.

"Showers also pulled into part of the dry areas in central Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio."

Weather service WxRisk.com talked of a "ring of fire thunderstorm clusters", storms supercharged by the jet stream, "moving through the Dakotas into Minnesota and the western Corn Belt August 1-2, then over central Plains and lower western Corn Belt August 4-5 and again August 7-8".

China purchase

It was also the last trading day of the month, a period when often encourages a round of fund washing-up, and selling, ahead of – potentially – new money coming in on the first day of the next month.

Chicago

corn

tumbled 2.6% to $6.68 ½ a bushel for December, just about maintaining its newly-recovered premium over the September lot, which shed 2.4% to $6.65 ¾ a bushel.

Soybeans

gained some support from the announcement that China had bought a further 220,000 tonnes of the oilseed from the US.

Even so, the benchmark November lot was 1.2% lower at $13.55 ½ a bushel.

Russia wins - again

And the support

wheat

received earlier from the likes of the weaker-than-expected yield results from the Wheat Quality Council spring wheat tour of North Dakota was washed away.

The latest Egyptian tender –the second in a week - issued a reminder that US wheat is still well out of the money on export markets, giving all 240,000 tonnes to Russia.

That took the total Egypt, the world's top wheat importer, has bought from Russia this month to 720,000 tonnes.

And while the price paid rose slightly again, to an average of just under $255 a tonne excluding freight, that was still nearly $30-a-tonne cheaper than US soft wheat was offered at.

'Lower test weights'

Chicago wheat for September was 1.9% lower at $6.80 a bushel, with Minneapolis spring wheat finding limited support from those crop tour results, standing 1.4% down at $8.35 ¼ a bushel.

European wheats did moderately better too, with London wheat for November ending down 0.8% at £163.65 a tonne in late deals and Paris's November contract finishing 1.1% lower at E197.75 a tonne, gaining some support from the prospect of further rain delays to harvests in parts of Germany and central Europe.

"Poland continues to see no let up in the constant rainfall seen this last week, with the next one-to-five days calling for further rains and adding to the already well confirmed quality fears there," Jaime Nolan at FCStone's Dublin office said.

He also highlighted a question mark over the crop in France, Europe's top wheat producer, with "talk of lower test weights across northern France beginning to surface. But we as yet have been unable to confirm a firm trend here".

Fear vs Reason

Among softs,

cotton

- a non-food farm commodity, and thus more vulnerable to changes in discretionary spending – felt the macroeconomic pressure.

"Clearly, the debt crisis has potential buyers hesitating, and is causing current longs to want out," Keith Brown, at Georgia-based broker Keith Brown & Co, said.

"Even though, supply fundamentals seem bullish enough, and the technicals seem bullish enough, if Fear is allowed to take the reins from Reason, Cotton's recovery may be delayed at best, or crushed at worst."

New York's best-traded December contract was trading 2.1% lower at 100.42 cents a pound.

'Bearish view'

Sugar

put up stiff early resistance, after Brazil decided not to cut the level of [cane-based] ethanol mixed into forecourt fuel, so forcing the sweetener to keep exhibiting its credentials to secure enough cane.

However, there were some worries around about technical factors.

Jurgens Bauer at PitGuru said: "Sugar values may have peaked as selling was the name of the game on Thursday.

"Overbought condition continues and charts suggest potential for further downside action if 29.50 cents a pound doesn't hold. Expect rally efforts to receive pressure."

And at Barclays Capital, Sudakshina Unnikrishnan issued a reminder of a boost to supplies expected later in the season.

"Into the fourth quarter, we reiterate a bearish view on prices, expecting them to decline from current levels on expectations of higher production from key northern hemisphere producers, taking the global market balance into a larger surplus," she said.

Sugar for October fell back to stand 1.0% lower at 29.61 cents a pound.

By Agrimoney.com

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