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Morning markets: data query adds to trader worries

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Chicago crops once again opened weaker, as the prospect of a Washington review of this week's data added to existing market question marks.

The US Department of Agriculture said that it may on November 10 unveil updated data on so-called small grains – wheat, barley, oats – reflecting the levels of crop yet to be harvested in five states at the time of the last survey.

The states are Idaho, Minnesota, Montana, North Dakota, and Wyoming.The harvesting of spring wheat was relatively late this year, reflecting delays to planting.

While the review could go either way, increasing or decreasing estimates unveiled earlier this week, some observers took it as a bearish sign.

"I'm not going to hold my breath for a decrease," a London trader told

"Any chance this crop gets to grow, it grows."

Fund sales?

Traders are already fretting over the potential for fund sales, in particular from two Deutsche Bank commodity funds which will at the end of this month lose their waiver over regulatory position limits on corn and wheat.

Deutsche Bank data analysed by implies position shifts of well over $1bn in farm commodities, with sugar another commodity due for a notable change in weightings.

Meanwhile, what news on fundamentals there was appeared bearish, with September rains improving prospects for Australia's crop, which had faced the threat of drought in what is a season marred by an El Nino weather event, albeit a weak one.

And there appeared little prospect of a freeze hitting US corn and soybean crops, which are getting less and less frost-vulnerable with every passing day.

December wheat slipped 1.75 cents to $4.51 a bushel in Chicago by 06:15 GMT, and by 2.5 cents to $4.68 ½ a bushel in Kansas.

Chicago corn was 1.25 cents lower at $3.39 ¼ a bushel, with November soybeans down 0.5 cents at $9.17 ½ a bushel.

Palm eases

Still, these performances were better than that of Kuala Lumpur palm oil, which slipped in thin volumes as investors awaited fresh inspiration.

An eight-day holiday in China, the world's biggest palm buyer, has removed some of the market's mojo, traders said.

Benchmark December palm oil closed the morning session on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange down 20 ringgit at 2,095 ringgit a tonne.


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