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Morning markets: crop prices revive as market jitters abate

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Is the downswing over? There is hope.

Technically, the boffins at Australia & New Zealand Bank said that while recent behaviour in commodity markets may look serious (and no doubt feel pretty painful too for many investors too with wheat down nearly 10% in two sessions, for instance), investors had not in fact headed for safer climes.

"ANZ's risk appetite indicator has eased but is holding up more strongly than last year's double dip fears," the bank said.

"At this stage, our judgment is the current episode is a wobble, with nearly all indicators continuing to operate well within normal ranges."

Vital signs

And sun shone on many financial markets early on Friday. OK, some shares struggled, with many getting their first chance to react to Thursday's latest hike by China of bank reserve requirements in the fight to quell inflation.

Tokyo stocks lost 0.7%, although Shanghai shares themselves added 0.8%.

But, crucially for

dollar

-denominated commodities, the greenback eased, down 0.2%, as the euro recovered some losses related to the Greek debt saga.

Oil

got off to a solid start, up 0.6% at 07:20 GMT (08:20 UK time), nearly getting back above $100 a barrel in New York.

As Ker Chung Yang at Phillip Futures put it, "oil is linked to the grains because ethanol is made from corn and funds often trade in a basket of commodities".

'Lifeline for the bulls'

Corn

crept higher in Chicago, extending gains of the last session, amid the latest round of rumours of Chinese buying.

And there were some renewed rains for areas of the US, with forecasts indicating that "a large portion of the Corn Belt will see some delays over the next seven-to-10 days", Benson Quinn Commodities said.

"The weather pattern is still the lifeline for the bull."

Latest estimates have Monday's US Department of Agriculture crop progress report showing 60% of US corn sown, up 20 points in a week, but still behind the average pace of well over 70%.

Corn for July added 0.2% to $6.81 ½ a bushel, with the new crop December lot up 0.1% at $6.31 ¼ a bushel.

'Massive flooding'

Soybeans

maintained gains too, having gained emerged relatively well from Wednesday's slew of USDA data which, while indicating easier US grain stocks, forecast inventories of the oilseed tightening a touch from already snug levels.

"If speculative selling has stalled for the moment, soybeans could be setting up technically for recovery back toward to the upper end of recent range which has been near $14.00 in both the July and November futures," Benson Quinn's Kim Rugel said, noting what looked like a so-called "double bottom" on the charts.

The market was "oversold". And, furthermore, sowing concerns are rearing their head for soybeans too, which, being later planted than corn, are usually seen as potential beneficiaries in acreage terms of a poor early-spring seeding progress.

"Extended weather is raising concerns about planting after next week's dry window," Rugel said.

And, as Mr Ker noted, "massive flooding" around the Mississippi river "has submerged about 3m acres of [US] crop land".

"Harvest of the soybean crops will be delayed this year and yields for late-planted crops could be lower after Mississippi river crested near a record level,"

Soybeans for July added 0.4% to $13.48 ¼ a bushel, with the new crop November contract gaining 0.4% to $13.32 a bushel.

'Better forecasts'

Even

wheat

managed a better performance, for now at least, despite rain where it was wanted in some dry areas of the US Southern Plains and prospects for a break in the clouds where it is needed further north and in Canada.

"There is slow planting up north, but forecasts look much better for them next week, and maybe rains for the dry south west," Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 said.

July wheat bounced 0.5% to $7.39 ¼ a bushel in Chicago, and to $8.80 ¾ a bushel in Kansas. Minneapolis spring wheat recovered 0.7% to $9.11 ¼ a bushel.

Against the tide

Even

cotton

managed a rally, jumping 2.0% to 147.19 cents a pound for July and 1.1% to 120.49 cents a pound for December, helped by a better performance in China the top importer and consumer of the fibre.

There, the Zhengzhou's September lot added 2.8% to 25,325 yuan a tonne.

China has been particularly under the microscope thanks to data showing its cotton imports fell 24%, year on year, in April, and reports of growing stocks of yarn.

And, unexpectedly,

rubber

gained too. Unexpected because the tyre ingredient had been expected to be hurt by the monetary squeeze in China, a huge importer.

Toyko rubber for October actually rose 2.6% to 364.20 yen a kilogramme.

By Agrimoney.com

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