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Morning markets: euro jitters return crops to the back foot

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Grains raised hopes in the last session, with their firm finishes, that they may be able to decouple from some of the cut and thrust of other risk assets.

"After weeks of wondering, can grains and

soybeans

close higher even with a higher dollar – yep," Mike Mawdsley at broker Market 1 said.

"For wheat seems like the first time in eons, grains and soybeans found strength and were able to hang onto gains into the close."

And with the market now in the countdown to Thanksgiving, "shorts may want to take profits and head to the sidelines", he added. "Holiday type trading will soon be upon us."

'Spread like wildfire'

Could agricultural commodities keep it up?

Not in early deals, anyway, as the bond markets issued a reminder that all is still not well in the eurozone, despite efforts by Greece and Italy to improve their lot.

Indeed, the fear is that the eurozone crisis may yet spread to other countries, notably France, whose bond yield spread over German Bunds hit a record.

Credit Agricole, the French bank, said: "The situation in the eurozone… appears to be deteriorating by the day.

"Contagion has spread across eurozone bond markets like wildfire and the lack of action to create a firewall means that there is little to extinguish it."

Risk-off

Such fears gave a classic "risk-off" feel to financial markets on Wednesday, with shares trading lower – Tokyo's Nikkei index ended down 0.9% and Seoul shares down 1.6%, while Shanghai stocks traded 2.5% down in afternoon deals.

The

dollar

gained a further 0.4% as of 08:40 GMT, compromising the competitiveness of dollar-denominated assets and pressing on the likes of Brent

crude

, which eased 0.2% back below $112 a barrel. London

copper

shed 0.7%.

And many agricultural commodities posted even bigger losses, as the turn in sentiment prompted investors to look at the downbeat side.

'May be decimated'

In soybeans, for instance, while rumours still remain of Chinese purchases from the US, potentially of 10 cargos, plus more from South America, no deals have emerged through the US Department of Agriculture's daily reporting system.

"Soybeans need confirmation of fresh sales to maintain their uptrend," Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities said.

And while Oil World may on Tuesday have foreseen disappointing soybean sowings in South America as farmers are lured to

corn

, saying "soybean production in Argentina and Brazil may indeed be decimated by a larger-than-expected shift of acreage", what is being seeded is ticking along nicely.

Brazilian soybean sowings are, at 58% completed, up 10 points in a week, consultancy Celeres said.

January soybeans fell 0.7% to $11.92 ½ a bushel.

Production rebound?

Nor is the switch from soybeans to corn to do prices of the grain any favours, especially to the levels foreseen by AgResource.

The US analysis group pegged the 2012 world corn crop at 872m tonnes, a rise of 13m tonnes year on year, including a 13% increase in US production.

December corn fell back 0.5% to $6.42 ¼ a bushel, just above the 30-day moving average line retaken in the last session, which now provided some technical resistance against further declines.

'Pessimistic demand outlook'

Wheat

, Chicago's top gainer in the last session, headed the losers' list in this one, shedding 0.9% to $6.27 ¼ a bushel for December delivery, with markets taking a second look at a sale by Australia of feed wheat to South Korea at a competitive $260 a tonne including freight.

Some analysts seen technical challenges remaining too, with Lynette Tan at Phillip Futures noting that the grain has traded "rangebound in the channel of $6.00 and $6.60 for the past month".

The moving average convergence/divergence [MACD], a momentum indicator, is "crossing down into negative territory", she added.

"The brief rally yesterday gave wheat strength to break above its 14-day exponential moving averages. It remains to be seen if this rally could be sustained but we doubt so in the midst pessimistic demand outlook."

Mixed fibre

At least New York

cotton

held on for bulls, extending its winning run by a further 1.0% to 103.73 cents a pound for December, boosted by talk of a trading house standing ready to take delivery against the contract, besides technical factors.

The fibre gained too on the Zehngzhou exchange in China, the world's top cotton concern, adding 0.2% to 20.370 yuan a tonne for May delivery, helped by expectations of the country stockpiling.

New York's March contract, which rose the exchange limit in the last session, was however unable to hold its gains, easing 1.0% to 99.63 cents a pound.

And

palm oil

returned to the front foot too, overcoming early profit taking to stand 1.3% higher at 3,220 ringgit a tonne in Kuala Lumpur, its highest since June.

The vegetable oil has garnered upbeat, price, comment from analysts, on grounds of production setbacks expected ahead, but firm Chinese and Indian demand.

By Agrimoney.com

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