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Morning markets: corn regains $7 amid caution ahead of data

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Welcome back, $7-a-bushel

corn

.

Actually, it was only a fleeting visit, with Chicago's July contract retreating from an early top of $7.05 ¼ a bushel to stand at $6.99 a bushel by 08:00 GMT (07:00 UK time), still up 2.3% on the day.

But such gains were symptomatic of a market in which, for the next day or so, may prove less fertile for bears, given the prospect on Thursday of reports on US grain stocks and spring sowings, data viewed in Chicago as among the most crucial of the year.

"All of a sudden people do care what the acreage and stocks data might say. What if they're bullish?" Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 said, noting that short investors in corn had become a "tad nervous".

There are, after all, widespread rumours of acreage losses above 6m acres in North Dakota alone. The state was struck by excessively wet spring planting conditions.

Greek vote

Nerves over the statistics were compounded by a greater appetite for riskier assets, as expectations grew that Greece's parliament will, later on Wednesday, approve austerity measures, collect a E12bn rescue package, and take the weight of its debt burden off its feet, at least for now.

Tokyo shares continued the round of rises on stock markets which saw the Dow Jones industrial average close up 1.2% last night. Tokyo's Nikkei index gained 1.5% to end at a seven-week high.

The

dollar

eased a touch, underpinning prices of dollar-denominated assets such as

copper

, which posted small gains, and New York crude, ditto.

And some crop fundamentals were going the way of bulls too, with cold weather in Brazil seen as a setback to safrinha, or second-crop, corn, much of which has already been beset by overly dry conditions.

Investors also continued to show some surprise at the deterioration in the condition of US corn, soybean and

wheat

crops, evident in official data out late on Monday.

In

soybeans

, for instance, "the trade has been slow to come to terms with the potential deterioration of the crop due to excessively wet conditions", Brian Henry at Benson Quinn Commodities said.

Better weather

OK, not everything was looking quite positive for prices.

Paris-based Agritel noted that "in Europe, the weather is expected to improve in the coming days, thus allowing harvesting to resume after the stormy episodes of the last days".

It added that harvest results had so far shown yields varying "greatly from one region to another, with positive surprises in some cases, but also severe damage in the most [spring drought] affected areas such as Picardy and Charentes" in France.

At Phillip Futures, Lynette Tan noted that the "northern US Plains are seen warming up over next few days, which are beneficial for crops.

"The southern Plains are also dry, which is beneficial for the ongoing harvest of hard red winter wheat."

'Little in the way of support'

And Rabobank waved a cautious word at investors, saying that, while it did not rule out a price spike following Thursday's US reports, "short-term momentum remains to the downside".

For wheat especially, the sell-off until Tuesday had caused a "lot of technical damage to the charts", and meant there "appears to be little in the way of support until prices fall to a level between $5.75-6.00 a bushel" in Chicago.

In fact, Chicago wheat for July was trading 1.6% higher at $6.50 ¼ bushel, with the better-traded September lot up 1.1% at $6.79 ¼ a bushel.

Soybeans, which suffered less of a sell-off earlier in the month, gained 0.4% to $13.36 ½ a bushel for July and 0.6% to $13.27 ¼ a bushel for the new crop November contract.

'Demand rising sharply'

The revival was echoed on many other markets too, with

palm oil

jumping 1.5% to 3,109 ringgit a tonne in Kuala Lumpur, for the benchmark September lot, putting a bit more distance between itself and an eight-month low of 3,045 ringgit a tonne hit on Tuesday.

Oil World helped with comment noting the boost to demand for the vegetable oil provided by lower prices.

"Demand for palm oil is currently increasing sharply, especially from buyers preparing for the Ramadan and other festivities," the analysis group said.

"In particular, palm oil import demand from India will rise pronouncedly in the near-to-medium term owning to depleted stocks and declining production."

Rubber bounces

In Tokyo,

rubber

added 3.1% to 357.90 yen a kilogramme for the benchmark December contract, helped by reports of a weak seasonal uptick in production.

"According to Association of Natural Rubber Producing Countries, the post-wintering supply situation could be due to rains, damage due to overtapping of trees to take advantage of abnormally higher prices earlier in the year and ageing trees," Ker Chung Yang at Phillip Futures said.

By Agrimoney.com

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