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Morning markets: weather and data keep crops on back foot

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Many markets set off on Thursday on a slightly better footing, helped by a positive finish overnight for US shares.

Tokyo's Nikkei share index closing up 0.2%, with Shanghai stocks showing similar gains in late deals.

But farm commodities maintained the gentle decline of the last session, for reasons both macro and crop-specific.

Yen intervention

The macro one was the rise in the

dollar

, of 0.5% against a basket of currencies, after Japanese authorities stepped in to weaken the yen and give hope to the country's important exporters.

A stronger greenback makes dollar-denominated assets that much less competitive as exports, and so acts as a depressant on prices of the likes of Chicago crops, and

oil

, which eased a touch to $91.90 a barrel in New York.

As for crop specific, weather continues to look not as threatening for August as it did last month.

"Right now there is absolutely no indication of any kind that the serious heat - 95 degrees Fahrenheit plus - we saw in July over the Plains and at times in the Midwest will come back into the Midwest before August 20," WxRisk.com said.

Methodology question

And there are continuing doubts that, even if crops did sustain severe damage last month, that it will show up in the US Department of Agriculture's next Wasde crop report, due next Thursday, thanks to methodology.

Terry Roggensack at Hightower Report noted the "photos of corn crops which look plush from the road but are seeing only partially pollinated ears".

"For next week's report, however, the USDA may not pick up much of the pollination problems and we could see a lot of reliance on stalk count and average ear weights in the production calculation."

At Phillip Futures, Lynette Tan said: "The yield reduction in the USDA's August report may be more conservative than analysts' expectations, due to survey methodology and the fact that the crop is still in its pollination phase."

'Lacks a bullish story'

Even the fears over vomitoxin, a poisonous fungal residue in

wheat

, and other quality issues for US spring wheat were put on the backburner by some.

"US wheat lacks a bullish story right now as the effects of a potentially lower-quality spring wheat crop will likely play out in the basis at a later date," Brian Henry at Benson Quinn Commodities said.

"The trade is more focused on the potential lack of demand for the current production than it is over the possibility of limited supplies due to lower acres and, to this point, light test weights."

The market is likely to get another reminder of the uncompetitiveness of US, and European, wheat exports later on Thursday when Egypt, the top importer, unveils the results of its latest tender, with cut-price Russian supplies expected again to prevail.

Price falls

Chicago corn fell 1.0% to $7.06 ¼ a bushel for the benchmark December contract as of 07:20 GMT (08:20 UK time), with the September lot dropping 1.0% to $6.99 ¼ a bushel.

And with the market leader easier, the other crops struggled too. September wheat dipped 0.9% to $7.04 ¼ a bushel, while

soybeans

fell 0.7% to $13.63 ¾ a bushel for November.

Soybeans got no help from oilseed peer

palm oil

which failed to repeat its against-the-tide gains of the last session, attributed to concerns that the Ramadan holiday would disrupt Indonesia and Malaysian output.

Kuala Lumpur palm oil for October delivery shed 0.7% to 3,113 ringgit a tonne.

Data later

As for movement later, weekly US export sales data may have an impact.

Traders are expecting a pick up in the recent, disappointing, rate of corn and soybean numbers. Corn sales are seen coming in at 850,000-1.1m tonnes, up from 485,000 tonnes last time, with the soybean figure expected between 450,000-650,000 tonnes, compared with previous sales of 373,000 tonnes.

For wheat, sales are expected at 350,000-500,000 tonnes, compared with 473,800 tonnes last time.

By Agrimoney.com

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