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Morning markets: grain futures ease, awaiting funds' verdict

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Show me the money.

Many markets made a bright start to September, helped by improved results from monthly surveys of Chinese manufacturers.

Tokyo's Nikkei


index closed up 1.2%, while New York


gained 0.3% in early deals to return above $89 a barrel.

However, there was no sign – yet – of a beginning-of-the-month wave of fund money which many crop investors have been looking out for to drive, potentially, another chapter in the bull market.

As Brian Henry at Benson Quinn Commodities noted, "the trade will closely monitor price action on Thursday morning for signs of new money coming into markets that are not that well offered"

"While I don't like the current risk/reward associated with buying ag futures that are not supported by the current cash market, the fund may have a different idea."

Harvest results

And there was little fresh fundamental news around to feed bullish spirit.

The Taiwan Flour Millers' Association bought 53,000 tonnes of US wheat.

Indeed, quite the opposite, there was plenty of caution around, especially with a long weekend ahead (America has a public holiday on Monday), denying investors an opportunity to trade at a crucial time of year.

"We should start hearing more and more actual harvest results when we come back after the Labor Day weekend," Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 noted.

Correction on the way?

At Benson Quinn, Jon Michalscheck thought that the market appeared "tired of chasing the same old daily news stories of potentially lower corn and soybean yields tied to the heat in July and a lack of rain in some of the main growing areas during the month of August".

Relative strength index readings, a key technical indicator, showing "levels at 70 or better", ie in overbought territory, "may have also deterred some from wanting to extend length at the present time, especially with a new month beginning and the uncertainty as to which direction the fund will want to take their money".

In fact, there was some appetite for a correction even among more bullish commentators, to refresh the market

"Let's take a breather, consolidate, shake out weak length, then take the next leg to the upside as markets get more harvest results," Matthew Pierce at PitGuru said.

And technically, there may be potential for a shake-out. "A close over this week's highs is needed to keep funds buying, otherwise a setback is due – anytime," Mr Mawdsley said.

'Drier, warmer weather'

US rains were also acting as a rallying point for bears, although it is not obvious they will be really enough to revive soybean prospects.

"Rainfall has improved in some areas during August but other areas remain very dry," forecasters at DTN Meteorlogix said.

In fact, looking ahead, "drier, warmer weather is likely through the key soybean areas".

Still, even soybeans, which have become Chicago's rallying point, hitting a three-year high on Wednesday, fell, easing 0.6% to $14.49 a bushel for November delivery.

Corn for December dropped 0.5% to $7.64 a bushel, and Chicago wheat for December lost 0.5% to $7.87 ΒΌ a bushel.

'Slowing demand'

As for progress later, this may be influenced by weekly US export sales data, over which analysts have lowered their sights.

"Estimates for tomorrow's export sales report are continuing to come down as more of those in the trade are expecting the spike in prices to be slowing demand," Mr Michalscheck said.

For soybeans, sales are expected to come in at 350,000-600,000 tonnes, short of the 658,000 tonnes last time.

For corn the range is 400,000-650,000 tonnes, compared with 536,100 tonnes the previous week, and for wheat 350,000-550,000, meaning they are expected to at least match the last result.


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