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Morning markets: Bin Laden death dents oil, and corn with it

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If the end of last week was marked by a wedding, the beginning of this week is about a funeral.

The death of Osama Bin Laden, the Al-Qaeda leader, in Pakistan was seen as a market-moving event, bringing "pressure on the Asian markets, as risk premium for oil products decreases", Paris-based Agritel said.

Crude

prices fell on an event seen as improving prospects for Middle East stability, with New York crude falling 1.3% to 112.50 cents a barrel as of 08:00 GMT (09:00 UK time).

Share markets were generally positive, with Australian shares just ending higher despite struggling under the weight of the strong Aussie dollar, while Tokyo's Nikkei index rose 1.6% to return above 10,000, and close at its highest since Japan's March 11 earthquake.

Chinese markets were closed for a Mayday (Labour Day) holiday, as are those in many other countries, including the UK.

Metals vs grains

Among commodities, precious metals suffered as global uncertainties eased.

Silver

tanked 10%, although

gold

recovered most of its early losses.

The response on crop markets was mixed, with

corn

and

soybeans

, crops widely used in making biofuels, and so vulnerable to oil price movements, falling in Chicago.

Corn for July stood 0.6% lower at $7.52 ¼ a bushel, with soybeans for the same month shedding 0.6% to 13.85 ½ a bushel. (Soyoil itself, the source of biodiesel, lost 0.6% to 57.81 cents a pound.)

'Running out of steam'

Australia & New Zealand Bank also highlighted regulatory data released late on Friday showing that speculators had raised their net long exposure to corn by "only" 10,000 lots in the week to April 26.

"The 10,000-contract increase in corn net longs is the smallest increase in a month and may well indicate investor enthusiasm for grains is running out of steam," the bank said.

"Speculative positioning in corn is now only 25,000 below the record long position of 365,000 contracts."

Furthermore, the default move for dollar-denominated assets was lower, with the greenback reviving 0.3% against a currency basket (after setting a three-year low earlier), so making them less competitive as exports.

Wheat

, however, saw the brighter side of the economic picture, adding 0.8% to $8.08 a bushel for July in Chicago, and 0.4% to $9.05 ½ a bushel in Kansas.

Weather...

Still, the big question for crop commodity movements later may be not be so much from Pakistan, (although there are reports that the country has sold a further 200,000 tonnes of wheat from the 2011 harvest) but in the weather outlook for the many producing countries, notably Canada, China, Europe and the US, which have seen too much rain, or too little.

In the US, while many areas, notably from Arkansas to Missouri, encountered one-to-two inches of rain over the weekend, bad news for spring sowing progress, that had been expected.

In the US, the big question, for corn, is whether the eastern Corn Belt will dry out, as had been expecting, so presenting a window for farmers to catch up.

"The short term forecast does not hold any surprises," WxRisk.com said.

Rain ahead?

Abroad, dryness has been a significant issue. And, indeed, recent rains in northern Europe and France "are patchy and too poor to bring true relief to early developed crops", Agritel said.

The outlook is, a bit, better.

"The weather patterns continue to slowly turn back towards a more normal spring-like pattern," WxRisk.com said, forecasting one-to-two inches of rain early this week for Spain and southern France.

However, "northern France, Germany and Poland stays pretty dry."

For dry Chinese wheat areas, "weather models show a slow-moving cold front will push into Manchuria and the north China Plains at the end of the week into next weekend which could provide those dry areas with much-needed rain".

Meanwhile, in wet Canada, Meteorlogix said "cold weather and some lingering snow cover are likely to delay early-season fieldwork and planting".

Down again

Elsewhere,

cotton

, which on Friday managed its first positive close in five sessions, taking April losses to 18%, renewed its downward move, shedding 0.7% to 156.85 cents a pound in New York for July delivery, amid continued ideas that record high prices earlier in the year have destroyed demand.

In Kuala Lumpur,

palm

oil

markets were closed. However, there was some good news to greet investors when trading reopens, with cargo surveyor Intertek estimating palm shipments from the second-ranked exporting country, Malaysia, adding 13.6% so far this month.

And, as a closing aside, Chicago corn ended last week above $7 a bushel for a fifth successive week, a feat never achieved before.

"We have closed four weeks in a row in February 2011 and June 2008. Thus history was made last week," Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 said.

By Agrimoney.com

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