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Morning markets: India and weather conspire to weaken grains

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There were a several reasons for farm commodities to get off to a soft start to the week.

For one, Monday began as a risk-off day, amid concerns that Europe's bank stress tests, which failed eight institutions, were not strong enough, and, in the US, with a continued lack of progress over talks on the debt ceiling.



, nonetheless, rose, fulfilling its role as an indicator of investor nerves, adding 0.5% against a basket of currencies and in turn making dollar-denominated assets, such as many commodities, less affordable as exports.

West Texas Intermediate crude slipped 0.4% below $97 a barrel.

'Demand evaporated'

Farm commodities continued their slide, including


, which in very early deals hitting 96.75 cents a pound in New York for December delivery – the contract's lowest level of 2011 – after falling 13% in the previous five sessions.

"In the past six weeks the December futures contract has slumped 30%, pressured by consistent cancellations of existing US cotton export sales," Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia, said.

"Global cotton demand has seemingly evaporated."

Still, with prices rise on the Zhengzhou exchange in China, the top producer, consumer and importer, rising, cotton this time staged some recovery to stand at 98.40 cents a pound by 07:45 GMT (08:45 UK time), down 1.1% on the day.

Mr Mathews added: "The terrible Texas drought, which has already caused significant downward revisions to US cotton production prospects and may cause even further future revisions, may start supporting prices. After all, US and global cotton supplies are already extremely tight."

Less heat?

Indeed, cotton was for once ahead of grains, which had other reasons to slip too - not least an apparent turn better, for


farmers, in the US weather outlook, and the prospect for damaging heat in US Midwest.

A cool front is now expected the northern part of the eastern Corn Belt later this week, said.

And, more importantly, the threat has receded of hot weather heading into August, when heat might cause real damage to plants protected for now to some extent by ample soil moisture reserves.

"While there is some data which suggests a new heat dome was going to form by the end of the month over the Rockies and then try and move east, right now the data that supports this is pretty weak," said in an overnight report.

"Friday's data "was a lot more 'bullish' on this threat or risk of a second significant heat dome event occurring by the end of the month."

Corn for December fell 1.4% to $6.75 ½ a bushel in Chicago, with the near-term September lot shedding 1.0% to $6.94 a bushel.

India's return...

Even so, the September contract kept its premium over its Chicago


peer, which dipped 1.3% to $6.85 ½ a bushel, weighed down not just by harvest pressure but a report that India has returned to exporting the grain after four years.

With Russia reminding on Friday over its return to shipments, winning a second Egyptian tender, "we expect the flood of wheat in the world market may keep prices pressured for this week", Lynette Tan at Philip Futures said.

Indeed, the pressures were more than enough to make up, for now, for the idea that harvest is turning difficult in France – with a crop earlier tested by drought now receiving too much rain.

"Rainfall this weekend stopped harvests in the north of France. A rainy week ahead holds sellers, waiting for further details on both volumes and quality," Agritel, the Paris-based consultancy, said.

Falling beans


too lost ground on thoughts of the improved US weather outlook, while retaining their knack for lower volatility.

Chicago's August lot shed 0.4% to $13.80 a bushel, matching the price of the better-traded November lot, which shed 0.5%.


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