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Morning markets: orders, and chart signs, help crops regroup

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Some seeds of a revival in crop prices were evident even in the last session's negative close.

Even if grain markets continued to draw little from a revival in external markets (Tokyo's Nikkei


index added 2.3% after the Dow Jones industrial average closed up 1.7% overnight, Brent


gained 0.5%) there was another night of North American frost to worry about.

OK the last one, on Wednesday night, was better news for farmers than bulls in grain futures, and the ongoing freeze too is forecast to be on the mild side.

"Market analysts were talking up the possibility of losing upwards of 125m-150m bushels of


but today they seemed to be refining that number back in towards 20m-50m depending on whose data you wanted to follow", Jon Michalscheck, at Benson Quinn Commodities, said.

AgResource, for one, cut its estimate to 50m tonnes from 125m tonnes.

"On a percentage basis,






may have been at a much higher risk," Mr Michalscheck said.

Chart signals

Technically, futures had a few positive pointers too, if only from being oversold, on some measures.

Chicago's December corn contract, for instance, managed to stay above the psychologically-important $7.00-a-bushel market, despite hefty selling by funds (who dropped an estimated 25,000 Chicago corn contracts).



for December held above its 50-day moving average at $8.70 a bushel, and Chicago soybeans for November have potential support at $13.52 a bushel, as the so-called 62% retracement level (from the last high, a pointer to followers of Fibonacci analysis).

"I would not be surprised to see the entire complex post a correction to the upside on Friday," Benson Quinn's Brian Henry said.

Acreage data

"Also supportive", Mr Henry added, were updated data from the US Department of Agriculture's Farm Services Agency which appear to show increased ideas on insurance claims from growers who missed out on sowings because of bad weather, or had fields flooded.

The so-called "prevent plant" acreage, for instance, was up by 130,500 acres, largely in Montana.

The USDA's estimates on harvested US acres for corn and soybeans will be key takeaways from its next monthly set of updated crop data, due on October 12.

'Soon be competitive again'

And there were signs of demand too, with Taiwan buying 44,100 tonnes of US wheat, following the likes of Egypt, Japan and Jordan in stepping into the wheat market.

Indeed, "if prices keep dropping we (US wheat) will soon be competitive again", Mike Mawdsley at Market 1 said, noting that Egypt's latest wheat purchase, at about $278 a tonne, equated to more than $7.50 a bushel.

Sure, US wheat prices face pressure from rain in the US South, which desparately needs moisture for hard red winter wheat sowings.

But is difficult to gauge how significant the rain is.

Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said that "additional rain is falling in the US hard red winter wheat belt, with most regions expected to receive enough rain to support planting".

Benson Quinn's Mr Henry talked of "disappointing rains in the southern Plains".

Prices rise

In fact, wheat in Kansas, where the hard red winter variety is traded, was 0.75 cents lower at $7.94 ½ a bushel for December delivery as of 07:10 GMT (08:10 UK time).

But that went against the grain, as it were.

Chicago wheat for December gained 2.75 cents, or 0.4%, to $6.98 ¾ a bushel, neck and neck with December corn, which held its diminished premium by getting to $7.03 ¾ a bushel.

November soybeans were 0.6% higher at $13.67 ¼ a bushel.

'Demand structure a drag'

In New York,


had less luck in regaining favour, with technical setbacks adding to the negative tone set by data on Thursday showing hefty cancellations of US export sales orders.

Mr Mathews flagged the fibre's "inability to prices to push above the 100 and 200-day moving averages" besides "confirmation that Asian buyers continue to cancel existing purchases from the US".

"The demand structure in the cotton market remains a drag for future cotton prices. "

And, in Tokyo,


added 1.3% to 365.40 yen a kilogramme, despite the best efforts of Michel Rollier, the chief executive of Michelin, to talk it down a touch.

Mr Rollier said that "natural rubber prices could come off slightly from present high levels, nothing that there's no supply shortage", Ker Chung Yang at Phillip Futures noted.

"However, he expected the rubber prices will remain expensive into year 2012 due to strong demand, especially from China."


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