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Morning markets: talk of China corn buying keeps crops ahead

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The risk for Wednesday was always that there would be something of a reversal in risk assets.

Sure, the likes of commodities and shares had gained in the run up to the confidence vote in the Greek government, on expectations that the move would be passed - which it was.

But the ballot still leaves Greece with the thorny issue of approving more austerity measures by the end of the month to get its hands on a E12bn rescue package.

And financial markets' habit of "buying the rumour, selling the fact" would dictate soft prices on Wednesday.

Buyers step in

That applied in some markets.


prices, for instance, eased, as did WTI


, which fell 0.5% in New York, back below $94 a barrel as of 07:20 GMT (08:20 UK time).

But the


was stable. And, most, agricultural commodities notched up early headway, helped by ideas that Monday's sell-off may have marked a nadir. For now, at least.

A big factor in their thinking is the signs of demand that have emerged at lower values. Saudi Arabia has bought EU and US


, and Jordan tendered. And many Asian buyers have stocked up on



"Japan has taken advantage of the dip in corn prices by purchasing around 300,000 tonnes of feed-grade corn for July-September shipment," Lynette Tan and Phillip Futures in Singapore noted.

....including China?

However, speculation has also centred on whether China - the second-ranked corn consumer, if only an importer of minimal quantities, until lately – had bought on price weakness, as it has been its habit of late.

The talk was that there had been purchases, of 1m-1.5m tonnes.

"Sinograin, which is responsible for ensuring that China has an adequate domestic supply, was being given credit for giving the green light to make the purchase by some of the trade houses," Jon Michalscheck at Benson Quinn Commodities said.

"As usual there has been no confirmation as to whether business was done or not so one will have to monitor the daily reporting system over the next couple of days and or the weekly export sales report on Thursday for confirmation."

'Persistently hot and dry conditions'

Revived weather threats helped too, with Australia & New Zealand Bank noting forecasts of "a strong high pressure ridge that will pass over the US Midwest next week, increasing the risk of persistently hot and dry conditions".

Some forecasters certainly have the hot weather sticking around, unhelpful for plants that may, given all the recent moisture, have bothered to develop only shallow root systems.

Meanwhile, weather in Europe is polarising, with forecasting that "over the next seven days a major Ridge in the jet stream will develop over western and central Europe that will those areas to warm up and dry".

However, the UK and Sweden will stay "wet and cool", while a low gets trapped over Ukraine which could get "several inches" of rain.

Key data

Furthermore, the market is taking increasing notice of two key reports due next week, on US crop inventories and sowings, which were, after all, seen as playing a big part in kicking off the rally in crop prices a year ago.

"Last years' experience with the June 30 reports, along with the high degree of uncertainty about planted and harvested acreage, highlights the importance of this year's reports," Darrel Good at the University of Illinois said.

Such thoughts are prompting a little more caution among investors.

The result was a 0.7% rise in Chicago wheat, to $6.79 a bushel, for July delivery, while July corn added 0.5% to $7.10 ¾ a bushel.

Indeed, this time the July lot outpaced the new crop December one too, which eased 0.1% to $6.79 ½ a bushel, raising the so-called "bull spread" which many traders may see as a sign of higher prices to come.


, which have remained relatively stable while grains have gyrated, eased 0.2% to $13.46 ¼ a bushel for July, and 0.2% to $13.47 ¾ a bushel for the new crop November contract.

Cotton shorts

Elsewhere, New York's July


contract maintained its rebound, fuelled by short-covering by mills ahead of the expiry of the lot, after getting caught out big time in the expiry process of the May lot.

The contract added 3.4% to 159.99 cents a pound, while the new crop December contract continued a more gentle revival, adding 1.0% to 125.25 cents a pound, supported by poor prospects for the Texas crop.

In Tokyo,


tumbled 3.4% to 364.60 yen a kilogramme, amongst its lowest levels of the year.


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