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Morning markets: soybeans stay on front foot

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Soybeans and soymeal remained in demand on Friday, supported by talk of vomitoxin in corn-based livestock feed alternatives, while other grains took their chances against a robust dollar.

The greenback held onto most of its ground gained in Thursday's flight from safety, if retreating marginally, to $1.4870, against the euro as of 7:45 GMT.

Oil was flat at $77 a barrel or so, undermined by data showing a larger-than-expected rise in US crude stocks, as well as the stronger greenback.

Wheat slips

Neither was a big help for Chicago grains, which dipped in Asian trading hours.

Wheat fell 3.75 cents to $5.28 a bushel for December delivery, with America's no-show in Egypt's latest 295,000-tonne wheat tender still weighing a touch on sentiment.

There are fears that buying, or short-covering, by speculators and funds has priced wheat out of the export market. Washington earlier this week cut hopes for US wheat shipments in 2009-10.

China's drought-threatened wheat crop has also enjoyed some moisture gain, if in the form of snow rather than rain.

Fungus fears

Corn, meanwhile, lost 1 cent to $3.89 ½ a bushel for December.

While the crop has been at the epicentre of the latest market storm, over vomitoxin, reports of findings of the harmful fungal residue look a problem for individual loads rather than the grain as a whole.

Still, there would be an unquestionable winner – soybeans and meal - from widespread vomitoxin contamination of corn and distiller's grains, the byproduct of ethanol manufacture from corn, and which is also used as a livestock feed. (Indeed, ethanol processing tends to concentrate, rather than dilute, vomitoxin contamination.

Soybeans for January added 3.25 cents to $9.93 ¼ a bushel, while December soymeal added $1.5 to $302.60 per short ton.

Mould levels

Nonetheless, it is unclear exactly how this scare will pan out. Reports of fungus in corn have been around since at least late last month, following persistent autumn rains which, by delaying harvest, have left crops out in the field, and damp, far longer than normal.

Some Midwest elevators have been reported as rejecting crops because of infection with vomitoxin, which can cause kidney or liver damage in livestock, and potentially nervous system failure and death.

The US Department of Agriculture, on Tuesday, noted a US corn crop facing "unfavourably high" levels of mould.

Wet plantations

In Kuala Lumpur, talk was of monsoon rains rather than any potential for a ripple effect from soybeans.

(This might not necessarily be a positive effect. Traders have been playing a trade of long soymeal-short soyoil – one of palm's big vegetable oil rivals - which left Chicago's December contract down 0.12 cents at 38.25 cents a pound in early deals on Friday.)

There is some thought that heavy rains could put a stop to the surge in production evident in official data for October.

The benchmark January contract stood 12 ringgit higher at 2,257 ringgit a tonne in early afternoon trade.


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