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Morning markets: new month. Same old selling pressure

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If the last session's weak performance was not a surprise for many, given the reputation that month ends have for inspiring selling, could Tuesday's live up to its more bullish billing?

After all, month starts are, by repute, times when farm commodity investors pump in fresh money.

"A new month. Will fund money come back into commodities?" Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 said.

At Allendale, Paul Georgy was optimistic: "There are ideas circulating that funds may come back in the market at the beginning of November."

MF Global fallout

Any wave of money had yet to make itself felt as of 08:15 GMT. But then, Tuesday provided more of the worries that tripped up broad financial markets in the last session, with a few more on top.

Markets continued to give the thumbs down to the announcement by Greece's prime minister, George Papandreou, of an unexpected referendum on the EU bailout plan which regional leaders agreed last week.

And the tentacles of MF Global's bankruptcy continued to spread, besides causing concern of what other groups might be pulled down.

It was not just, as Mr Mawdsley noted, that "rumour is MF Global might have a few more contracts in

corn

rather than

wheat

/

soybeans

to liquidate".

The commodities-based group is/was a particularly important player in Australian crop futures, and its collapse prompted suspension of trading in grains on the ASX exchange.

Dollar gains more

Japan extended yen sales, fuelling the revival in the

dollar

, which bounced a further 1.0% against a basket of currencies, eroding the competitiveness of dollar-denominated assets including many commodities.

And there were fresh concerns too, such as the start-of-the-month array of surveys of purchasing managers which showed China's manufacturing sector faltering, with an index reading of 50.4, down from 51.2 last month, and only just above the 50.0 point marking expansion.

It hardly looked auspicious for risk assets, and many stock markets weakened, with Tokyo

shares

indeed closing down 1.7%, while Sydney shares lost 1.5%.

Brent crude lost 1.1%, falling below $109 a barrel, while copper showed modest losses too.

Chinese crush

As did agricultural commodities.

Corn was worst affected of Chicago's big three, falling 1.0% to $6.40 ¼ a bushel for December delivery.

US Department of Agriculture data overnight on harvest progress offered little direction, with 78% of the US crop in the barn as of Sunday, in line with market forecasts.

The soybean harvest figure, at 87% complete, was round about investor expectations too, although the oilseed did get some support from Chinese data showing a strong pace of crushing by soybean processers.

China's CNGOIC think tank also stuck by a forecast that the country's soy imports would hit 5.2m tonnes this month, providing some reassurance in uncertain times.

Chicago soybeans for November shed 0.5% to $12.02 ¼ a bushel.

Wheat crop deteriorates

Chicago wheat lost 1.0% to $6.21 ¾ a bushel for December delivery, getting some support, despite loose supply fundamentals, from fellow grain corn, besides dry weather concerns besetting Ukraine and US winter grains and the rains interrupting the Australian harvest.

The condition of the US winter wheat crop declined by 1 point, to 46% rated "good" or "excellent", a poor figure by historical standards, if in line with last year, USDA data overnight showed.

Still, there is always the risk of disappointment on US exports, Ker Chung Yang at Phillip Futures said.

"Further news of countries seeking wheat other than US could continue to pressure wheat prices which had already suffered much from export competition this year," he said.

'Possible lifeline'

But it's still early in the day, of course. One potential cause of a market ripple later is the release of fresh crop estimates from FCStone, as brokers begin the preparations for the USDA's next flagship Wasde report on world crop supply and demand.

The report is an important one, with December's seeing minimal changes, so that "it is the November crop report production estimates that will be the driving factor into year end", US Commodities noted.

Kim Rugel at Benson Quinn Commodities said that the Wasde "could possibly offer a lifeline to this demand bear market".

Informa Economics is due out with its pre-Wasde estimates too this week.

Data later

Sugar

investors should also remember that fresh estimates for Brazil's Centre South sugar dynamics are due out later from cane industry group Unica.

"A recent recovery in cane quality, due to unusually dry weather over the past few weeks, has not been enough to boost production substantially as harvesting approaches its end and there is not much cane left in the fields, industry sources said," Lynette Tan at Phillip Futures said.

She added that "fundamentals are generally supportive of sugar prices for the moment, noting the "expectations of lower-than-expected output from Brazil, with mills now beginning to end their crush" and "possible delays in sugar deliveries from number two exporter Thailand due to floods".

By Agrimoney.com

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