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Morning markets: Greece and Rome fears extend crops' fall

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If Tuesday is to be a turnaround one, it was in heavy disguise in early deals.

Chicago lore has it that the second day of the week tends to reverse a strong trend in the first one. Which, given Monday's weak performances, including a limit-down finish in cotton, implies rises today.

However, that was to reckon without Greece and Italy which, having given world civilization so much, are currently forces for destabilisation.

If tackling Greece's sovereign debt burden has proved a headache, and on Monday prompted banks to pressure European Union for assurances, should the problem spreading to Italy, with more than $2.2 trillion of outstanding debt, well….

"Once Italy gets involved, it starts to be a situation that politicians alone may not be able to solve," Jim Reid, credit strategist at Deutsche Bank, said.

Macro fears

And with concerns still abroad about Chinese inflation, and over poor US employment data on Friday, the stage was set for more liquidation of risk assets.

Tokyo's Nikkei share index closed down 1.4%, falling back below 10,000 points, while Shanghai stocks were 1.7% lower in late deals.

The

dollar

, as a gauge of investor fear, added 0.5%, making dollar denominated assets including many raw materials less competitive as exports.

Oil

prices fell 1%, for West Texas Intermediate and Brent, and some farm commodities dropped even more.

Nine-month low

Notably

cotton

, which followed up its close to the last session down the maximum allowed in New York by touching limit down again, for October delivery, and hitting the lowest for a spot contract since October before recovering some ground,

The October lot stood 4.2% lower at 106.90 cents a pound at 07:40 GMT (08:40 UK time). The better-traded December lot was 4.2% lower at 104.30 cents a pound

While Australia & New Zealand Bank noted a "lack of end-user demand", cotton is often among the most sensitive farm commodities to macro-economic concerns – being, as a non-food crop, more in the way of a luxury than a necessity, and more sensitive to discretionary spending.

A further tumble in prices on China's Zehngzhou exchange added extra jitters, with the best-traded January lot sliding 4.8%. China is the top grower, consumer and importer of the fibre (of which the US is the top exporter).

Condition improves

And, as in the last session,

wheat

scored large on the loser board too, down 2.2% to $6.25 ½ a bushel for Chicago's best-traded September lot.

Harvest pressure was one reason, with combines well underway on grains harvests in the Black Sea and southern Europe, besides in the US (where nearly two-thirds of winter wheat is in silos).

As of Monday, Ukraine farmers had reaped 5.6m tonnes of grains with an average yield of 2.86 tonnes per hectare, up from 2.43 tonnes per hectare a year before, news agency Interfax said.

The better condition of the US spring crop was another, with 73% rated in "good" or "excellent" health as of Sunday, up three points week on week, and closing the gap with the year-before performance, when 83% was rated in the top two grades.

Minneapolis spring wheat was 2.0% lower at $7.78 ¾ a bushel for September delivery.

'Russian prices setting the tone'

And that is before getting to the competition factor, and Russia's return to exports.

"Wheat is at the mercy of world prices right now, and Russian wheat prices are setting the tone, as they are the cheapest in the world," Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 said.

At Benson Quinn Commodities, Brian Henry said: "Russia continues to offer 11.5% milling wheat at $240.00 a tonne. This is basically $30-35 cheaper than offers from the European Union and US.

"Russia will likely continue to offer wheat at these lower prices unless Ukraine begins to offer milling wheat. To this point, they have only been offering feed wheat."

Weather factor

Corn

felt the pressure from wheat, an alternative in many uses. (Indeed, rail-to-ethanol group The Andersons confirmed on Monday that it has started mixing wheat in with corn in making the biofuel.)

Still, with the prospect of hot US weather providing some support, corn's fall was limited to 1.1% to $6.36 ¼ a bushel, for Chicago's September contract, and by 1.0% to $6.26 ½ a bushel for December.

Soybeans

, once again, performed best of Chicago's big three, if still falling, by 0.7% to $13.37 ¾ a bushel for August and by 0.7% to $13.37 a bushel for the new crop November contract.

The oilseed is also getting some support from the weather, as well as from the prospect later of the US Department of Agriculture's monthly Wasde report cutting forecasts for domestic soybean inventories following a downgrade two weeks ago to sowings estimates.

By Agrimoney.com

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