Thursday, March 31, 2011

20110331 1525 Global Market & Commodities Related News.

Asian stocks poised for quarterly gains, yen eyes qtrly loss
HONG KONG, March 31 (Reuters) - Most Asian shares edged up on Thursday, heading for a quarterly gain despite a sharp sell-off earlier this month after disaster struck Japan, while the yen was poised for a quarterly loss on expectations Tokyo will have to maintain super-loose monetary policy far longer than Europe and the United States.
"Shares are modestly expanding gains on continued foreign buying around sectors that are seen bullish," said Chung Seung-jae, a market analyst at Mirae Asset Securities in Seoul.
Brent, near $116, heads for biggest qtrly gain in almost 2 years
SINGAPORE, March 31 (Reuters) - Brent crude rose 0.4 percent towards $116 on Thursday, heading for the biggest quarterly gain in almost two years as war, revolutions, and unrest across the Middle East and North Africa thrusted supply constraints to the forefront of investor concerns.
"The second quarter is a good period, and oil demand should be increasing," said Tetsu Emori, a Tokyo-based commodities fund manager at Astmax Investments, adding he expects U.S. crude to end the year close to $120.

U.S. wheat, corn, soy flat; sidelined before USDA report
BEIJING, March 30 (Reuters) - U.S. wheat, corn and soybean futures were almost flat in Asian trade on Thursday, as traders stayed on the sidelines ahead of a U.S. Department of Agriculture report on planting intentions due later in the day.
"Tonight's USDA planting intentions report and evolving crop weather will be the primary focus of the market for the next few sessions," Commonwealth Bank of Australia said in its note.

China reports wider outbreak of wheat diseases
BEIJING, March 31 (Reuters) - China's wheat crop is suffering from a serious outbreak of disease and the spread of pests this year due to the dry spring, the ministry of agriculture said.
Areas suffering crop damage from pests increased by as much as 110 percent, with the density of pests four times greater than last year in parts in the north, the country's bread basket, said the ministry.

Argentina corn crop seen at 21-22 million tonnes
BUENOS AIRES, March 30 (Reuters) - Argentina's 2010/11 corn harvest is expected to fall to between 21 million and 22 million tonnes, down from last season's record 22.7 million tonnes, the head of local corn group Maizar said on Wednesday.
Dry weather at the start of the corn season hit crop yields, dampening early production expectations for a crop of up to 26 million tonnes. However, rains since mid-January have helped some crops recover.

Colombia says roya fungus infests 50 pct of coffee farms
BOGOTA, March 30 (Reuters) - The roya fungus infecting Colombia's coffee trees has worsened at plantations that were affected last year, and now covers half of the country's farms, Agriculture Minister Juan Camilo Restrepo said on Wednesday.
The fungus, which attacks coffee leaves and impedes photosynthesis, has been exacerbated by humidity in the world's top producer of high quality washed Arabica. The crop is poised to recover this year after two dire harvests that helped set the stage for prices to surge to 34-year highs.

Ivorian cocoa dealers hope fight leads to exports
ABIDJAN, March 30 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast cocoa farmers and traders are hopeful a dramatic sweep south by the country's former rebel fighters could soon pave the way for a partial resumption of cocoa exports.
Output from the world's top cocoa grower has been blocked since late January after a dispute over who won the West African country's presidential election triggered an export ban and EU restrictions on shipping at its ports.

China to buy, stockpile cotton to help farmers
BEIJING, March 30 (Reuters) - China's government will begin a cotton purchase and reserve policy this year, its first such mechanism aimed at stabilising production, a top economic planning body said on Wednesday.
The policy was launched just as Chinese cotton farmers start planting the crop, and may "attract those farmers who are still hesitating on their planting decisions to grow," said Dong Shuangwei, an analyst at Capital Futures.

Copper up, but on course for first quarterly loss since mid-2010
SINGAPORE, March 31 (Reuters) - London copper rose half a percent on Thursday, but the market would need to rally more than 2 percent to avoid its first quarterly loss since June 2010, after three months of volatile trading mostly pressured by geopolitical and demand concerns.
"The mood is cautious given the data and Chinese holidays ahead. Our economists believe Beijing will start to shift from reserve ratios to interest rate policy to cool things down," said Natalie Robertson, analyst at ANZ in Melbourne.

Gold edges up, heads for 10th quarterly rise since '08
SINGAPORE, March 31 (Reuters) - Gold inched up on Thursday and was on track for its 10th consecutive quarterly rise since 2008 as an early drop spurred cautious bargain hunting ahead of U.S. February employment data at the end of the week.
"I think sentiment is slightly bullish because there are still many uncertainties around. Even though the euro zone is expected to increase interest rates, it will only be a small increase," said Ronald Leung, director of Lee Cheong Gold Dealers in Hong Kong.

Pricey food to fuel fertiliser boom-Yara
OSLO, March 30 (Reuters) - Norway's Yara International ASA , the world's top supplier of crop nutrients, said the global fertiliser market is set to remain demand-driven for some time to come, reflecting record high food prices.
Chief Executive Joergen Haslestad told Reuters that even as prices of urea-based fertiliser fell in the seasonally weak first quarter, other nitrate fertilisers and NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium) have remained surprisingly strong.

High production costs curb Vietnam rice price drop
HANOI, March 29 (Reuters) - Vietnam's rice export prices are unlikely to fall significantly this year despite a recent bumper harvest due to surging production costs, an industry executive said, tempering the country's edge in export markets.
Despite a major dong devaluation in February that Thai traders said made Vietnamese rice more competitive and hurt Thailand's market share, rising costs in Vietnam had offset that advantage and helped to narrow the gap between the two nation's  export prices.

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