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Morning markets: rubber hogs limelight as grains await data

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Commodity markets got through their first set of important data on Wednesday with reasonable aplomb.

China, a key buyer of raw materials, said that inflation eased last month, by 0.1 points to 5.4%, if coming in above the 4% target and analysts' estimates.

But there were signs that government efforts to avoid economic overheating were bearing fruit - industrial output and producer price inflation eased more rapidly - factors viewed as diminishing the chances of further monetary clampdowns, and their inherent knock-on threat to demand for commodities.

The data were blamed for depressing metals a touch, and Shanghai shares too.



extended its rebound, returning above $104 a barrel in New York, and Chinese agricultural commodity futures had a positive day - notably cotton which jumped 2.7% to 25,430 yuan a tonne for September delivery as of 07:30 GMT (08:30 UK time), helping its New York peer (below).

Data later

Now for the second set of statistics.

The US Department of Agriculture will at 12.30 GMT unveil its monthly Wasde report on crop supply and demand, a much-watched report anyway, but this time particularly crucial, given that it will offer the first full estimates for 2011-12.

Analysts are expecting the estimates to show US


stocks up nearly 150m bushels, but remaining well below the psychologically important 1bn market at the close of that crop year.


stocks are all forecast showing a small recovery but remaining tight, at 167m bushels.

And US


inventories are forecast to drop to a still comfortable 658m bushels, thanks to a drop of more than 150m bushels, to 2.04bn bushels, in the harvest, beset by dry weather in hard red winter wheat country and damp in areas trying to sow spring grain.

Factored in?

But will the data come in as expected? And how much is already factored in to futures prices?

"Hard red winter wheat production is expected to be estimated near the range of 750m-770m bushels," down from 1.02bn in 2010-11 despite higher sowings, Brian Henry at Benson Quinn Commodities said.

However, investors "have been hearing that the crop is that poor for some time now. Perhaps a 750m-bushel number has been traded".

For corn, will the USDA make an allowance for the potential impact on yields of a late sowing season?

'Wheat, rapeseed stress'

Investors were not taking too many chances in early deals, with most crops showing small gains but as might be expected given a small further decline in the dollar, which helps prices of dollar-denominated assets by making them cheaper to buyers in other currencies.

Furthermore, weather outlooks remain poor for many regions. Australia & New Zealand Bank, for instance, highlighted that dryness concerns in the European Union - as a region, the world's top wheat producer – are "not going away".

"Temperatures reached above 25 degrees Celsius in France and western Germany yesterday," the bank said.

"Decent rain is still forecast in the southern areas of France and Germany on the weekend. But northern areas are set to largely miss out, continuing to stress wheat and rapeseed crops in these areas."

Much of the UK, however, has received rains this week, with more than 40mm on farms surrounding the headquarters in the west of England.

Modest rebound

One crop which managed heftier gains was


, which added 0.6% to 152.33 cents a pound for New York's July contract.

"It is likely that the USDA will [in the Wasde] revise higher old-crop US cotton inventories because of the recent slump in demand," Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said.

"However the influence of an upward revision to stocks on the market tonight may be moot considering prices have already fallen around 30% over the past few months."

In Chicago, July corn edged 0.3% higher to 152.20 cents a pound, while July wheat added 0.3% to $8.01 ½ a bushel.

Soybeans added 0.25 cents to $13.38 ¼ a bushel. Benson Quinn noted talk from an, unnamed, "private analyst that the US could be losing corn acres and gaining soybean acres due to flooding on the southern Mississippi and Ohio rivers".

Thai factor

For a more enthusiastic upward performance, it was necessary to go to Tokyo, where


for October (the benchmark contract) added 1.5% to 387.40 yen a kilogramme, extending a recovery from April losses.

The rebound was encouraged by Tuesday's data showing Chinese imports up 29% year on year to 180,000 tonnes last month.

Ker Chung Yan at Phillip Futures added: "Political considerations in Thailand may keep prices on the upside in the coming weeks," with the biggest rubber exporter set for elections in July.


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