Sure, there was still some bullish news around on wheat, with the fears for quality spreading to Russia, besides mounting in Germany, besides the general help from benign conditions on external markets, where crude rebounded to stand 2.3% higher at $84.30 a barrel in late deals
"Concerns over wheat quality from the rain-delayed German harvest are currently the focus" of investors, certainly in Europe, officials at the UK’s HGCA said.
"Analysts estimate that 20% of the crop is still to be harvested, most notably in the key exporting regions of northern Germany," at a time when the crop is normally
In the US, while "limited rainfall was experienced [over the weekend] in Kansas state, the bulk of the region remains very dry as hard red winter wheat planting approaches", Benson Quinn Commodities said.
Rival broker US Commodities said: "The market is concerned with the dry hard red winter wheat areas of the South West. Planting is not that far away."
But although there were signs of demand too, with United Arab Emirates unveiling a 75,000-tonne tender (Egypt unveiled its latest tender after the market closed), on the bearish side the squeeze caused to US spring wheat supplies by a delayed harvest may be about to ease.
While a US Department of Agriculture crop report later is expected to show "limited activity" on the spring wheat harvest last week, "good progress should be made this week", Benson Quinn said.
Minneapolis hard red spring wheat for September, having touched a two-month high for a spot contract of $9.69 ¾ a bushel, closed down 0.2% at $9.43 ¼ a bushel.
With that, Chicago’s September lot got a touch of vertigo too, retreating from its own two-month top of $7.48 a bushel to close at $7.35 ½ a bushel, up 0.7% on the day.
That, indeed, left it outpaced by some European wheats which, thanks to geography, took an extra edge from the deteriorating German situation, and potential Russian concerns.
London wheat for November closed up 1.6% at £166.00 a tonne, while Paris wheat for November ended 0.7% higher at E203.25 a tonne, slowed by a minefield of key chart points.
Jaime Nolan, at FCStone, noted that resistance levels at E203 and E205 a tonne both had to be breached before the market "may see a tentative push up towards strong resistance at E209 a tonne".
‘Risk of going backwards’
But wheat was outpaced by fellow Chicago majors corn and soybeans, both of which gained from a drier-than-expected weekend in the US, and limited prospects of much-needed rain to come.
"Chances for beneficial rainfall over the weekend in the Midwest did not materialise," Benson Quinn said.
"The soybean crop runs the risk of going backwards as much of this crop is still in the pod-filling stage."
And US Commodities noted that while tropical storm Irene has now upgraded into a hurricane, "it does not appear to be significant enough to help any part of the eastern Corn Belt. About one of the Corn Belt is dry".
David Tolleris at weather service WxRisk.com said: "This is going to be another drier week – in fact the pattern looks dry through for the next 10 days."
US vs South America
Soybeans had trade statistics as an extra booster.
First, Chinese customs data showed imports of the oilseed to the top buyer hitting a 2011 high of 5.35m tonnes, albeit mainly from Brazil.
Then US weekly export inspection data showed America’s soybean shipments jumping to 10.9m bushels, up from an upwardly-revised 6.6m bushels the previous week. (Corn’s were OK too, at nearly 30m bushels.)
Chicago’s November lot closed up 1.2% at $13.85 ¼ a bushel, albeit behind corn, which added 1.3% to $7.34 ½ a bushel.
Matthew Pierce at PitGuru said that soybeans "remain technically bullish more than flat price bullish, because for every penny they move higher Brazil and Argentina expand their expected acreage".
Sugar loses sweetness
The drier weather idea helped cotton too recover early losses to close up 0.2% at 106.45 cents a pound in New York, for December delivery.
Decent imports by China, the top buyer, helped too, up by more than one-third at 157,000 tonnes.
But while the data for sugar were even better, more than doubling month on month to 265,500 tonnes, traders wondered whether this had been factored in.
And, with the boost wearing off from an estimate from Canaplan on Friday of a Brazilian Center South cane crop of 476m tonnes, down from a previous estimate of 500m tonnes, with the estimate for sugar output cut by 2m tonnes to 28.0m tonnes, New York futures ended lower.
The October contract’s failure (by 0.03 cents a pound) to match its July high sent the lot crashing back down to 30.79 cents a pound by settlement, down 0.6% on the day.
Cocoa warms up
Cocoa added 1.4% to $3,045 a tonne in New York, for December delivery, helped by its close above the 100-day moving average in the last session, and with the idea that speculators having turned net short in the bean may be an overreaction.
London’s December lot added 1.5% to £1,917 a tonne.