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Morning markets: wheat futures miss out on ag market headway

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US markets returned on Tuesday from holiday to continue where other markets left off, in broadly upbeat fashion - apart from





, a loser in the last session, managed to turn positive, adding 0.5% to 271.60 yen a kilogramme in Tokyo for November delivery, boosted by Chinese measures to support vehicle purchases in rural areas, and of energy efficient cars too.

But in Chicago, wheat for July eased 0.4% to $6.77 ¼ a bushel as of 08:40 UK time (02:40 Chicago time) as the rains in some dry parts of eastern Australia and Russia, which have already weakened European prices, did their work on US markets.

"Recent rainfall in southern Russia and eastern Australia has helped ease wheat production worries," Luke Mathews at Commonwealth Bank of Australia said.

Some concerns remain

Still there was no collapse. Western Australia remains "unfavourably dry", if with the chance of rain later this week on which farmers are pinning their hopes.

At Australia & New Zealand Bank, Paul Deane said: "The Western Australian grain belt needs rain, particularly the north.

"Temperatures in the region have been warmer than normal and the emergence of canola remains patchy."

And "parts of eastern South Australia and north western Victoria, the Mallee region, missed the rainfall event. Most of the Mallee has received less that 50% of normal May rainfall".

'Significant decrease in soil moisture'

Meanwhile, in Russia, SovEcon has cautioned that even as dryness concerns ease over southern Russia, the Urals and Siberia regions still require rain,

And in Ukraine, Agritel warned on Tuesday that "weather conditions remain a concern in the southern regions.

"May rainfalls in the oblasts of Odessa, Nikolaev, Kherson, Zaporozhye, as elsewhere in the Crimea, are not sufficient to cope with a significant decrease in soil moisture.

"Indeed, a dry wind dries the surfaces of the plots and this will have a negative impact on winter crops and early spring plantings."

'Price rises might slow'

But the potential for downward prices has been opened up by speculators mammoth short-covering event, which, in the week to last Tuesday, turned them from a near-record short position in Chicago wheat to their first bet long position since September.

The passing of such buying pressure means "near-term price rises might slow", FCStone said,

In Kansas, meanwhile, speculators built up a sizeable net long position, of which there were signs of a touch of unwinding.

The July Kansas hard red winter wheat contract eased 0.1% to $6.99 ½ bushel, with moves later likely influenced by further reports from the US winter wheat harvests.

External signals

However, the broad financial market mood was positive, as concerns over a Greek departure from the eurozone turned down a notch, and China's move on cars raised hopes that the world's second-largest economy might be doing a bit more to stimulate its economy.


rose on Asian markets, by 1.2% in Shanghai itself, 0.7% in Tokyo and 1.4% in Seoul.

The safe haven of the


faded, by 0.3% against a basket of currencies and, as an extra help for dollar-denominated agricultural commodities, prices of their Chinese peers rebounded further.


for January gained 0.5% to 4,340 yuan a tonne on the Dalian, and September corn 0.4 to 2,371 yuan a tonne.

On the Zhengzhou, January


added 0.6% to 19,590 yuan a tonne, and


for January 0.6% to 6,015 yuan a tonne.

Softs harden

New York soft commodities rose too, July cotton by 0.7% to 74.14 cents a pound, while raw sugar added 0.7% to 19.75 cents a pound, also getting help from a positive finish for London white sugar overnight.

Lynette Tan at Phillip Futures noted that sugar prices which last week fell to their lowest since summer 2010 "spurred the Asian and Chinese traders to restock on sugar, providing a temporary support to the market".

But the estimates of world production surpluses in 2011-12 and 2012-13 "will continue to weigh in", she cautioned, noting how prices had "failed to breach the psychologically important 20-cents-per-pound level amidst expectations for possibly one of the largest global surpluses in recent years".


And, back in Chicago, corn and soybeans did better too, helped by uncertainties over forecasts of rain for needy parts of the Midwest later this week.

Ms Tan said: "In the week ahead, weather forecasts by the US weather model and the European weather model have given traders and investors conflicting signals and may cause a tug-of-war between bulls and bears.

"While the US model forecasts substantial rains in the Midwest region on Wednesday night into Thursday morning, the European model forecasts only meagre rain in the same region during the same period.

"Markets have been counting on a large corn crop this year so any damage to the crop in the world's largest exporter of corn could trigger world-wide price hikes."

'Concerned about data unreliability'

It is indeed the prospect of rains from tomorrow onwards which the market has been focusing on, and which weather service said could "bring in significant showers and thunderstorms over Missouri, eastern Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky and Ohio".

"That being said, I am somewhat concerned about the unreliability of the model data to determine which areas are going to see the significant rains May 31-June 1 and which areas are not,";' Dave Tolleris said.

"It does look like a significant rain is going to fall" over many easterly areas.

"But whether not the significant rains fall over eastern Iowa and western / central Illinois, well right now that's a crap shoot."

New crop December corn added 0.2% to $5.322 ¾ a bushel, with the old crop July lot up 0.9% at $5.83 ¾ a bushel.

November soybeans gained 1.1% to $13.02 ¾ a bushel, behind a 1.2% rise to 13.98 ¾ a bushel in the July lot.


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