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Morning markets: corn lifted by confirmation of heat damage

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Many assets, not just farm commodities, enjoyed something of a Turnaround Tuesday.

The default move for risk assets became "up" after Barack Obama, the US president, put pressure on US politicians to end the deadlock over a budget plan, and spare the country a "reckless and irresponsible" breach of conditions with holders of its debt.

Tokyo's Nikkei share index closed 0.5% higher while the


, a gauge of investor jitters eased, giving an extra fillip to dollar-denominated assets by making them more affordable to buyers in other currencies.


set course for what would be its first rise in five trading days, while West Texas Intermediate


added 0.4% to cement a position over $99 a barrel.

Condition deteriorates

And Chicago grains, for which the idea if a Turnaround Tuesday reversing Monday's trend is trading lore, had the extra impetus of a US Department of Agriculture crop reports overnight which confirmed that last week's heatwave had indeed done damage.



, 62% of the crop was rated in "good" or "excellent" condition, a four-point slide in a week, and the biggest decline that analysts had feared.

"Of the top five [corn-producing] states, Iowa was the only one that held its own supposedly against last week's heat," Jon Michalscheck at Benson Quinn Commodities said.

"Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, and Nebraska were all seen declining. The northern portion of the Corn Belt appeared to have fared the best as excess moisture in a large portion of the area may have provided some support for the plant."

'Prop for prices'

That stoked fears for the eventual size of the corn crop, with Australia & New Zealand Bank noting that "history shows it has been very hard for the US to achieve a trend yield with declining crop conditions through July and August".

(That said, its forecast for a yield of 156-158 bushels per acre is higher than those of some other analysts.)

At Texas A&M University, agricultural economist Mark Welch said: "Yield concerns from crop condition reports and the weather outlook should provide a prop for prices if we can overcome the headwinds out of Washington," a reference to that budget gridlock.

'New heat dome'

And this is before taking any further weather setbacks into account, with noting that European and US weather models were now in close agreement over hotter temperatures during the six-to-10 day outlook.

"The new European Model does re-develop a new heat dome over the central and Lower Plains by July 30-31, which does drive back into the western Corn Belt and the Mississippi Delta on July 31," while being followed by cooler weather which is more favourable for pollinating corn.

At Singapore's Phillip Futures, Lynette Tan said: "Hot and dry conditions will persist in the region's southern tier and it seems we are one heatwave away from a corn rally.

And, indeed corn got off to a bright start, adding 0.9% to $6.80 a bushel for the best-traded December lot as of 07:20 GMT (08:20 UK time).

'Rather resilient'


gained too, if less so, being ahead of their critical period, in August, and with their crop condition falling by a more modest two points in the good or excellent categories, to 62%.

"Soybeans tend to rather resilient and favourable weather in August can help a soybean crop that is behind schedule," Benson Quinn said.

Chicago's best-traded November lot added 0.7% to $13.81 ¾ a bushel.



enjoyed similar gains, boosted by spillover support from corn, if not by the USDA crop report, which showed 74% of spring wheat in the top two condition bands, a rise of one point on the week.

More will be known about the state of the spring crop after a tour this week by the Wheat Quality Council which is expected to report weak sowings, but that what has been planted is in good condition.

For now, Chicago's September lot was 0.7% higher at $6.93 ½ a bushel.

Egyptian tender?

Sooner than that, we may learn more of talk that Egypt, the top wheat buyer, is about to step back into the market for its latest tender for the grain.

"Egypt is expected to set a tender today for soft wheat for delivery in August," Agritel, the Paris-based consultancy, said.

In the US, Benson Quinn said that the tender would be for August 21-31 shipment, with grain from both Russia and Kazakhstan eligible (although no mention of Ukraine, which may potentially be about to be put back on Egypt's list of approved suppliers).


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