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Morning markets: crop prices build on US yield fears

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And the verdict is… bullish.

Corn

is not expensive enough yet.

At least, investors took the first chance they have had to trade since the ProFarmer crop tour results late on Friday to send corn prices higher again.

The tour pegged the US corn yield at 147.9 bushels per acre.

And while it is not the lowest yield in town, with Lanworth for instance putting the figure at 147 bushels per acre, it was still far enough below the US Department of Agriculture estimate of 153.0 bushels per acre to support further price gains.

Chicago's December corn lot set a fresh contract high of $7.77 a bushel before easing a touch as of 07:30 GMT (08:30 UK time) to $7.75 a bushel, up 1.0% on the day.

Tailwinds

Not that the tour result was the only influence around. Otherwise, for instance,

soybeans

might be in a soft spot, after the tour pegged the US yield at 41.8 bushels per acre, 0.4 bushels per acre above the USDA forecast.

In fact, the November contract built on Friday's above $14-a-bushel close, the lot's highest since 2008, adding a further 0.7% to $14.33 ¾ a bushel.

But external markets were broadly helpful, as investors gave a positive response to the keynote speech by Ben Bernanke, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, which while failing to offer immediate economic support was viewed as having enough ammunition present in between the lines to support sentiment.

Tokyo's Nikkei share index closed up 0.6%, and Seoul's Kospi up 2.8%, while

oil

added 0.4% in New York.

The

dollar

lost 0.3% against a basket of currencies, another indicator of improved sentiment, luring investors from a favoured safe haven.

'Rains are needed'

Furthermore, the US weather outlook (hurricanes aside) was still little bit worrying too.

The ProFarmer tour had some good words to say about the US soybean crop, terming it "the most disease-free we've ever seen".

However, to get to the 41.8 bushels per acre yield estimate will require further rains.

"Rains are needed to help maintain the soybean crop or it will slip further in the next two weeks," Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 said.

"After that rain won't matter much as the crop matures."

However, the outlook remains dry, posing a threat to areas that DTN Meteorlogix said are "still in need of rain to prevent significant declines in yield potential".

'Boost to winter crop production'

The same actually goes for Argentine

wheat

, which the government said late on Friday was in good shape, but would need more moisture.

Less equivocally bearish was rain in the other main southern hemisphere wheat exporter, Australia, where a lack of rain in some areas has been, until recently, raising eyebrows.

"Beneficial rain was recorded across portions of the northern New South Wales and Queensland grain belt over the weekend," Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said.

"The rain provided a boost to winter crop production prospects", winter crops including wheat, besides giving "a much-needed improvement in soil moisture conditions for the upcoming summer crop planting season", a factor for cotton and the like.

Corn vs wheat

Furthermore, there is still chatter around about Russia's apparent reluctance to introduce a wheat export tariff, as had been rumoured following a storming start to 2011-12 exports.

"An export tax could potentially be good news for US wheat after some countries had chosen to bypass US wheat for Russian wheat," Lynette Tan at Phillip Futures said.

However, on the bullish side, she highlighted that a "sustained increase in corn prices could provide more upside for wheat if end-users look for substitutes in wheat from the overbought corn market".

Furthermore, the US dryness looks set to continue in the US southern Plains, dimming prospects for the forthcoming hard red winter wheat sowing season.

Chicago wheat for September added 0.6% to $7.66 ½ a bushel.

By Agrimoney.com

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