The Early Vibe

14/03/11 -- The BBC are reporting a second blast at the Fukushima power plant overnight. Japan's Nikkei average index has closed 6.2% lower today in it's biggest one-day drop since December 2008.

Large manufacturers all took a big hit with shares in household names like Toshiba and Hitachi both falling 16%. Tokyo Electric Power fell 24%.

NYMEX crude is down more than two dollars, currently standing a less than USD100/barrel. Brent is down a dollar and a half.

Gold is up on a flight to safety, but copper, platinum and silver are all down.

The overnight markets opened with beans, corn and wheat all trading around 5c lower. Wheat is currently 5c higher, with corn mixed and soybeans all over the shop but mostly lower and with some months posting double digit losses.

All CBOT March contracts expire today. America put it's clocks forward last night so the Globex market shuts at 12.15 GMT and the CBOT daytime session runs from 14.30 GMT to 18.15 GMT for the next two weeks until we catch up.

The pound isn't looking too healthy at 1.1540 against the euro and 1.6050 against the dollar. At one stage sterling hit 1.15 against the single currency, a level not visited since early November. The euro is up after ECB Jean-Claude Trichet late last week hinted at a euro zone rate rise in April.

In theory a weak pound would support UK wheat prices as it would help our export competitiveness. The only problem is that there is no export business to compete for. At home, demand from compounders is slack with many now dragging their heels on taking delivery of existing contracts.

There's plenty of resale raw materials being offered back onto the market therefore, with takers very few and far between.

When asking various people last week "where's the market on rapemeal/soya hulls etc?" the stock reply was pretty much "I've got no idea because there isn't a single bid in the market. Take the shippers price and knock ten or fifteen quid off it for starters."