Overnight Grains Sharply Higher

It's back to "as you were" at the start of last week, with the overnight grain markets sharply higher following gold hitting another all-time high in the Far East on strong demand.

Crude oil is best part of a dollar higher at USD78.34/barrel, and the dollar is down on concerns about inflation.

eCBOT soybeans are around 15-16 cents higher, with corn up 6 cents and wheat 7-8 cents higher.

Official figures just out show that China imported 2.52 MMT of soybeans in October, 18% up on a year ago. November imports are expected to climb to around 3.5 MMT and December/January 4 MMT each. Almost all of that looks set to come from the US, although some very early soybeans are expected to be harvested in Brazil Christmas Day.

It's not just soybeans that China are buying: October coal imports jumped 220 percent year-on-year to 11.1 MMT; refined copper imports were up 31%; Crude oil imports climbed 20 percent from a year ago.

China's National Petroleum Corporation said it is taking urgent steps to meet the rising demand for gas caused by falling temperatures and heavy snowfalls, which are causing logistical problems for movement of all grains, according to reports.

The Philippines might need to buy up to 3 MMT of rice next year, double their normal requirement, after typhoons wiped out a large part of their crop. India, normally a net exporter, may also be in the market to import 3-5 MMT, analysts say after their crop was slashed by summer drought.

Thousands of Spanish farmers marched on Madrid at the weekend in protest at their falling incomes. One of the things they are complaining about is the size of the country's wheat imports, which they say is undermining their own grain trade.

It never rains etc is particularly apt in western and southern Argentina at the moment. Already expecting the smallest wheat crop since 1977, the lack of adequate treatment due to the credit crisis has caused locusts to be a real problem this year. According to Bloomberg, up to 2 million acres of mostly wheat crops are under threat unless the government stumps up some emergency aid immediately.