Thursday, March 29, 2018

Stock & Commodities Related News.

US STOCKS-Wall St closes lower in rocky session on Amazon losses - Reuters News
29-Mar-2018 04:45:54 AM
Updates to market close
Indexes close lower after volatile trading
Amazon.com, Tesla weigh on consumer discretionary stocks
Q4 GDP revised up, biggest consumer spending gain in 3 years
Dow up 0.04 pct, S&P 500 up 0.29 pct, Nasdaq off 0.85 pct 
By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK, March 28 (Reuters) - Wall Street closed lower after a rocky session on Wednesday as gains in consumer staples and healthcare were offset by a sharp drop in Amazon shares and a continuing slide in technology stocks.
All three major U.S. indexes ended the day in negative territory following Tuesday's late-session tech-driven sell-off following Monday's rally as traders moved to defensive stocks after recent weeks' heightened volatility.
"People should expect what's happening given the kind of volatility we've seen as well as the fact that we're kind of in a news vacuum prior to quarterly earnings," Chuck Carlson, chief executive at Horizon Investment Services in Hammond, Indiana, said. "It's a market that's really looking for the next leadership." 
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 9.29 points, or 0.04 percent, to 23,848.42, the S&P 500 lost 7.62 points, or 0.29 percent, to 2,605 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 59.58 points, or 0.85 percent, to 6,949.23.
Online retailer Amazon.com was down as much as 6.7 percent, losing more than $53 billion in market value after a report that President Donald Trump indicated he wanted to rein in the company. The stock later pared its loses to end the day down 4.4 percent.
Shares of automaker Tesla slumped 7.7 percent, extending recent losses, following a credit downgrade and news that officials are investigating a fatal crash and fire in California.
Countering those losses were gains for consumer staples, real estate, telecom, and healthcare.
The S&P Energy index posted the biggest loss of the 11 major S&P sectors, ending 1.99 percent lower as crude prices fell after data showed a surprise build in U.S. stocks. 
The markets shrugged off a report from the U.S. Commerce Department that the U.S. economy slowed less than previously reported in the fourth quarter as consumer spending grew at its fastest quarterly pace in three years. GDP expanded at a 2.9 percent annual rate in the last three months of 2017, ahead of the previously reported 2.5 percent. 
Strong economic data could invite a more hawkish approach by the U.S. Federal Reserve this year with respect to further interest rate hikes.
"I'm not surprised by the economic data," said Carlson. "But the market right now is looking past that from a valuation standpoint." 
Stocks had jumped earlier in the week as trade war fears ebbed following comments from officials in the United States and China that implied the world's two largest economies would renegotiate tariffs and trade imbalances.
China is expected to announce a list of tariffs on U.S. imports in retaliation against the expected tariff proposals from the U.S. on Chinese goods. 
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 1.12-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 1.22-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 6.96 billion shares, compared to the 7.36 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days. 

(Reporting by Stephen Culp
Editing by Nick Zieminski and Susan Thomas)



UPDATE 2-Oil prices rise as OPEC seen continuing supply cuts through 2018 - Reuters News
29-Mar-2018 03:31:07 PM
Crude up as OPEC/non-OPEC deal to hold through 2018
But rising U.S. crude inventories, production cap prices
Shanghai crude futures down almost 10 pct since Monday launch
Goldman says Shanghai crude launch was "relatively successful"
Updates prices, adds chart
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - Oil prices rose on Thursday as the producer cartel OPEC and other suppliers look set to continue withholding output for the rest of the year and potentially into 2019.
U.S. WTI crude futures were at $64.63 a barrel at 0729 GMT, up 25 cents, or 0.4 percent, from their previous settlement.
Brent crude futures were at $69.76 per barrel, up 23 cents, or 0.3 percent.
The Middle East-dominated Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) together with a group of non-OPEC producers led by Russia started cutting output in 2017 to rein in oversupply and prop up the market.
Brent, off which OPEC prices most its crude exports, has risen by around a quarter since then, which has lead to speculation that the restraints on production may be lifted.
But sources at OPEC told Reuters this week that the group and its allies were set to keep their deal on cutting production for the rest of 2018.
Despite this, Brent remained below $70 and WTI under $65 per barrel, weighed by rising crude inventories and production in the United States.
Commercial U.S. crude inventories rose by 1.6 million barrels in the last week to 429.95 million barrels, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said on Wednesday.
U.S. crude oil production hit a record, at 10.43 million barrels per day (bpd). That puts the United States ahead of top exporter Saudi Arabia. Only Russia pumps out more, at 11 million bpd.
In China, Shanghai crude oil futures opened Thursday's morning session down nearly 2 percent, pushing the new market near to parity with U.S. prices, before closing at 409.7 yuan ($65.18) per barrel at 0700 GMT.
The latest drop takes the fall since the contract's launch on Monday to 10 percent.
Despite high volatility and lingering scepticism about Shanghai's trading hours, along with doubts about the process for physical delivery of crude under contract, most analysts expect the contract to establish itself as a third global oil price benchmark next to Brent and WTI.
Goldman Sachs said in a note to clients that there was "finally, an exchange traded price for Chinese crude oil."
Shanghai's "start of trading was relatively successful (as)...it is the first onshore Chinese commodity contract that allows direct trading by foreign investors and is denominated in RMB (yuan), indirectly promoting the use of the Chinese currency," Goldman said.
The U.S. bank said Shanghai crude futures represented 3 percent of combined WTI and Brent trading volumes since its launch on March 26.
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein
Editing by Aaron Sheldrick and Christian Schmollinger)



PRECIOUS-Gold steadies as N. Korea, global trade concerns ease - Reuters News
29-Mar-2018 04:00:54 PM
(Recasts with updated prices, adds quote and details)
Gold heads for a third straight quarterly rise
Silver set post its worst quarter in three
Platinum to post worst month since September
Palladium on track for worst quarter since end-2015
By Swati Verma
BENGALURU, March 29 (Reuters) - Gold prices held largely steady on Thursday, a day after posting its biggest one-day percentage fall in nearly 9 months, as tensions over North Korea and global trade eased.
Spot gold was nearly unchanged at $1,325.16 per ounce at 0736 GMT, after hitting a low of $1,322.50 earlier in the session, it's lowest since March 21.
Prices dropped 1.5 percent on Wednesday, their biggest one-day percentage decline since July 3, 2017.
U.S. gold futures for April delivery were steady at $1,324 per ounce.
"There was a premium in the (gold) price due to both the trade issue and with the North Korea. Both of these tensions look to be less inflamed currently," said Cameron Alexander, an analyst with Thomson Reuters-owned metals consultancy GFMS.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un pledged his commitment to denuclearisation and meet U.S. officials, China said on Wednesday after his meeting with President Xi Jinping, who promised China would uphold friendship with its isolated neighbour.
Gold, often seen as an alternative investment during times of political and financial uncertainty, was on track for a third straight quarter of gains, having risen nearly 2 percent so far.
Concerns about the global trade war have eased but that doesn't mean it is over, said Brian Lan, managing director at dealer GoldSilver Central in Singapore.
U.S. President Donald Trump's tariffs on Chinese goods may not be imposed until early June, administration officials said on Wednesday, with public consultations and potential tariff revisions buying time for negotiations to forestall them.
In other precious metals, spot silver was steady after falling to $16.20 per ounce, its lowest in one week. Silver was on track to post its worst quarter in three.
Platinum rose 0.5 percent to $936.30 per ounce, after hitting a near three-month low in the previous session. The metal was down about 5 percent so far this month, on course to post its worst month since September.
Palladium was up 0.3 percent to $968.90 an ounce.
Palladium was set to fall over 7 percent this month, the steepest drop since December 2016.
For the quarter, the metal is down more than 8 percent so far, its worst since the quarter ended December 2015.
(Reporting by Swati Verma and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Amrutha Gayathri) 



RPT-COLUMN-Trade biases and trends for USDA's plantings, stocks reports –Braun - Reuters News
29-Mar-2018 01:30:00 PM
Repeats March 28 column for wider distribution. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters.
By Karen Braun
CHICAGO, March 28 (Reuters) - Agriculture market analysts may be a little off on their forecasts for U.S. corn and soybean plantings, but a missed prediction on supply could turn into the main event on Thursday in terms of possible impact on Chicago-traded futures.
This is all part of the fun each year when the U.S. Department of Agriculture publishes prospective plantings and March 1 grain inventories on the last trading day of March. This year, those reports are scheduled for release on Thursday at noon EDT (1600 GMT).
There are some important trends and market conditions to consider when it comes to the pre-report analyst polls, as the expectations may not always match the reality, and this can lead to high volatility in the futures market on the day.

ACRES
Industry analysts have pegged 2018 U.S. soybean plantings at an all-time high of 91.056 million acres, some 1 percent more than a year ago. The average corn guess is 89.42 million acres, fractionally lower than the final acreage in 2017.
But historical data suggests that Thursday's soy number may come in higher than the trade peg and the corn number may be a little smaller.
Since 2005, analysts have underestimated soybean plantings in only five years, one of them being 2017. These years all have one common link: an elevated new-crop futures price ratio. 
When the ratio of CBOT November soybeans to December corn is near 2.5 or above heading into the spring, U.S. farmers may prefer planting soybeans over corn based on better expected returns. Through the first three weeks of March, this ratio averaged 2.56, very similar to the same period a year ago. In 2017, analysts' pre-report guess of 88.214 million soybean acres was too low by 1.3 million acres. They were also too low on March 1 soy stocks, and the most-active futures contract fell 17 cents a bushel or 1.8 percent on report day.
This analysis transfers over to corn, as the elevated bean-to-corn ratio tends to coincide with analysts overestimating corn acres. They tend to underestimate corn plantings when that ratio is relatively low.
This means that USDA's corn target may fall below 89.42 million acres on Tuesday, despite the fact that planting corn is probably more attractive than it was a year ago since futures prices have performed better and the supply outlook has tightened.
If the trade acreage numbers are realized, it will be the first time in history that U.S. farmers plant more soybeans than corn "organically" instead of in response to government influence. Bean plantings topped those of corn only one other time due to heavy participation in the government's 1983 acreage reduction program that was designed to curb corn production and stimulate prices.
Since 2012, market analysts either nailed or came in a little too high on planted wheat acres in prospective plantings.
Trade estimates place all U.S. wheat planted acres at 46.297 million acres, fractionally more than last year, but there is a chance that this number is even larger on Thursday.
From 2013 to 2017, USDA lowered its wheat planted area target by an average of 3 percent early on between the baseline projections and the agriculture outlook forum in February. For the most part, that ended up being the correct call in terms of final acres.
But in 2018, the agency increased this number by 3 percent, which is why the six-year streak of generally high-balling wheat plantings ahead of the March report could be in jeopardy.

STOCKS
Market analysts have had mixed luck in guessing March 1 corn and soybean stocks. But when their misses are big enough – by about 2 percent or more – it tends to dominate the futures price action for the day, even if the opposite signal is given by acres.
For soybeans, the stakes could be high. The average trade guess for March 1 stocks is 2.03 billion bushels, some 14 percent larger than 2007's record. And 18 of the 25 analysts polled by Reuters submitted an estimate larger than 2.03 billion.
Dec. 1, 2017 soybean stocks hit an all-time high of 3.16 billion bushels, and in the three months that followed, exports were pretty disappointing. Meanwhile, soy processors were crushing at a record rate, but this almost certainly cannot offset the pile-up of supply from slow shipments.
The market also expects March 1 corn stocks to edge last year's record with 8.706 billion bushels. Demand for U.S. corn started booming in early January, but this may not have had a sizable impact as of March 1 since a lot of the new commitments had not yet been fulfilled. 
A year ago, analysts underestimated March 1 corn stocks by 1 percent, but the most-active contract rose 6.75 cents a bushel or 1.9 percent as the trade had been too high on corn acres.
Trade estimates place March 1 wheat stocks at 1.498 billion bushels, down about 10 percent from a year ago. Analysts have underestimated this number in four out of the last 5 years.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)



TECHNICALS-CBOT soybeans may test support at $9.83 in 3 months - Reuters News
29-Mar-2018 12:34:01 PM
SINGAPORE, March 29 (Reuters) - CBOT soybeans first month may test a support at $9.83 per bushel in three months, a break below which could open the way to the next support at
$9.10-3/4.
These supports are identified respectively as the 14.6 percent and the 7 percent Fibonacci retracements on the downtrend from September 4, 2012 high of $17.94-3/4 to the Nov. 23, 2015 low of $8.44-1/4.
The failure of the contract to break above $10.68-1/2 not only triggered a deep correction to $9.83, but also signalled a completion of the bounce from the June 23, 2017 low of $9.00-1/4. The completion means the downtrend from $17.94-3/4 may have resumed.
Even if the uptrend from $9.00-1/4 extends, the contract may still approach $9.34, the Sept. 27, 2016 low, as suggested by the symmetrical nature of the chart pattern.
A projection analysis on the daily chart reveals that the current drop is closely related to the previous downtrend from the June 10, 2016 high of $12.08-1/2.
Wave pattern shows the contract is riding on a wave c, which is capable of travelling into the range of $8.80-1/2 to $9.53. A break above $10.71 could open the way towards $12.08-1/2.
** Wang Tao is a Reuters market analyst for commodities and energy technicals. The views expressed are his own.
No information in this analysis should be considered as being business, financial or legal advice. Each reader should consult his or her own professional or other advisers for business, financial or legal advice regarding the products mentioned in the analyses. **
(Reporting by Wang Tao; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips) 



UPDATE 1-China warns U.S. not to open Pandora's Box, unleash trade ills on world - Reuters News
29-Mar-2018 12:21:50 PM
China could target goods including semiconductors and even service - China Daily
China still mulling curbs on soybeans - U.S. Soybean Export Council Asia 
China warns U.S. not to open Pandora's Box
Adds scale of Chinese imports of U.S. chips, comments from Chinese commerce ministry
By Se Young Lee and Yawen Chen
BEIJING, March 29 (Reuters) - China warned the United States on Thursday not to open Pandora's Box and spark a flurry of protectionist practices across the globe, even as Beijing pointed to U.S. goods that it could target in a deepening Sino-U.S. trade dispute. 
China could target a broad range of U.S. businesses from agriculture to aircraft, autos, semiconductors and even services if the trade conflict escalates, the official China Daily newspaper said in an editorial on Thursday. 
President Donald Trump's move last week to slap up to $60 billion in tariffs on some Chinese imports has since provoked a warning from Beijing that it could retaliate with duties of up to $3 billion of U.S. imports.
China's biggest U.S. imports are aircraft and related equipment, soybeans and autos, with the total bill about $40 billion last year. 
"The malicious practices of the United States are like opening Pandora's Box, and there is a danger of triggering a chain reaction that will spread the virus of trade protectionism across the globe," a commerce ministry spokesman said. 
The official line from China continues to be stern even as Beijing says it is all for dialogue and negotiations. The feedback from U.S. and Chinese officials on the nature and extent of trade talks remains mixed, media reports show. 
The Financial Times reported only on Monday that China had offered to buy more U.S. micro-chips and move more quickly to finalise rules allowing foreign firms to take majority stakes in Chinese securities firms, citing people briefed on the negotiations. 
Chinese customs data shows the U.S. accounted for just $2.6 billion, or 1 percent, of China's total semiconductor imports last year by value, with suppliers in South Korea, Taiwan and Japan commanding a bigger share. 
But a source in the U.S. semiconductor industry said U.S. companies have slightly more than 50 percent of China's market for chips, though export data doesn't reflect that because much of the product is sent off-shore for low value added processing. 
The source said the U.S. semiconductor industry had not asked the Trump administration to urge China to buy more U.S. chips and had been told by senior U.S. officials that the U.S. government had not made such a request to Beijing.
"We don't need China to buy more chips," the source said, adding that U.S. industry was concerned about being targeted by Chinese non-tariff barriers. 
"It's more about (Chinese) subsidies, IP protection, and cyber rules," the source said, referring to concerns over Chinese retaliation. 
China has long said it would like to import more U.S. high-tech goods, including high-end chips, but has been stymied by U.S. export controls set on national security grounds. 
China's commerce ministry said on Thursday the U.S. approach to trade could trigger a domino effect and U.S. trade protectionism will only hurt U.S. consumers. 
While China hopes the U.S. will resolve trade conflicts with China through dialogue, it will take all possible steps to protect its interests, ministry spokesman Gao Feng told a regular briefing in Beijing. 
"Negotiations must be equal, and China will not accept any consultation under unilateral coercion," Gao said. 

SERVICES MAY BE TARGETED
On Wednesday, Trump's top trade envoy said he would give China a 60-day window before tariffs on Chinese goods take effect, but added that it would take years to bring the two countries' trading relationship "to a good place."
The tariff list is expected in the next several days.
The China Daily on Thursday quoted Premier Li Keqiang as telling a U.S. Congressional delegation this week that China was open to dialogue but "fully prepared with countermeasures".
It warned that if the conflict continued to escalate "China could consider taking reciprocal measures against U.S. imports of agricultural products besides soybeans, as well as aircraft, automobiles and semiconductors."
"And should the Trump administration further obstruct Chinese investments in the U.S., even tougher measures such as restrictions on imports of U.S. services and similar investment reviews would likely be on the table," it said.
Separately, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported on Thursday that U.S. and Chinese officials had been holding talks to shield American soybeans and other agricultural products from trade sanctions.
China is still considering import curbs on U.S. soybeans, U.S. Soybean Export Council Asia director Paul Burke said on Thursday, following a meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture.
(Reporting by Se Young Lee and Yawen Chen in BEIJING; Additional reporting by Michael Martina, John Ruwitch, Dominique Patton and Stella Qiu
Additional writing by Ryan Woo
Editing by Shri Navaratnam and Kim Coghill)



UPDATE 1-China still considering curbs on U.S. soybean imports -U.S. soybean council - Reuters News
29-Mar-2018 11:46:34 AM
Soybeans were top U.S. agricultural export to China last year
U.S. soybean trade group met with Ag Min on Monday
Meeting comes as tensions between China, US over trade mount
Adds details throughout
By Dominique Patton
BEIJING, March 29 (Reuters) - China is still considering import curbs on U.S. soybeans in retaliation for moves by Washington to impose trade tariffs, U.S. Soybean Export Council Asia director Paul Burke said on Thursday, following a meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture.
The ministry requested an informal meeting in Beijing with the council, Burke told Reuters by phone. The meeting, which took place on Monday, was attended by the U.S. trade group's China director, Xiaoping Zhang, along with officials from the ministry's department of international relations.
In his comments, Burke rejected a report in Hong Kong's South China Morning Post that the council's meeting with the ministry had been part of official talks aimed at shielding American soybeans.
"The agriculture ministry wanted to discuss our view of the soybean industry regarding tariffs and the supply and demand situation," Burke said. "We are cautiously optimistic soybeans won't be targeted, but they're still on the table."
A trade spat between the world's top two economies is escalating, with U.S. President Donald Trump preparing to slap tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese imports over the alleged forced transfer of intellectual property.
Soybeans were the top U.S. agricultural export to China last year, worth more than $12 billion. China is the world's biggest soybean importer and the U.S. is its second-largest supplier. 
In an editorial on Thursday, the China Daily newspaper said Beijing could target a broad range of U.S. businesses form agriculture to aircraft, autos and semiconductors if the conflict escalates.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton
Writing by Josephine Mason
Editing by Aaron Sheldrick)

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Stock & Commodities Related News.

US STOCKS-Wall Street closes sharply lower, tech leads late selloff - Reuters News
28-Mar-2018 04:41:35 AM
Markets turn sharply lower in late trading
Facebook, Alphabet drag down tech stocks 
Twitter falls after short-seller report
Dow down 1.43 pct, S&P 500 down 1.73 pct, Nasdaq down 2.93 pct
Updates to market close
By Stephen Culp
March 27 (Reuters) - Wall Street closed sharply lower Tuesday, with each of the major U.S. indexes suffering their fourth decline in five sessions, fueled by a selloff in the tech sector.
Tech stocks, among the best performing sectors of the bull market, have been under pressure recently as concerns about government regulation stemming from their strong growth and privacy questions surrounding Facebook.
"What it really amounts to is a complete lack of knowing what to expect," said Peter Kenny, senior market strategist at Global Markets Advisory Group, in New York. 
"It seems so open-ended, there is a lot of risk here and investors don't like uncertainty and this is the definition of uncertainty." 
Facebook shares dropped 4.9 percent at $152.22 and is down nearly 15 percent for the month. The Nasdaq Internet index saw its worst daily percentage drop since June 2016. 
Of the 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 only defensive plays such as consumer staples, telecom, real estate and utilities ended the session in positive territory.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 344.89 points, or 1.43 percent, to 23,857.71, the S&P 500 lost 45.93 points, or 1.73 percent, to 2,612.62 and the Nasdaq Composite dropped 211.74 points, or 2.93 percent, to 7,008.81. 
Since hitting a record on Jan. 26, equities have been battered by worries about rising inflation, the pace of interest rate hikes by the U.S. Federal Reserve and the possibility of a global trade war. The S&P 500 is down 9.1 percent from its high. 
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro confirmed on Monday top Trump administration officials have asked China to cut tariffs on imported cars, allow foreign majority ownership of financial services firms and buy more U.S.-made semiconductors in negotiations to avoid imposing tariffs on a host of Chinese goods. 
A person familiar with the discussions said these were among the asks from Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer as they pursue talks with Beijing. 
Markets roared back on Monday with their best day since August 2015 on hopes that the world's two largest economies were willing to renegotiate tariffs and trade imbalances. 
But those gains proved temporary as early advances were overcome by the tech sector weakness. 
The drop in Facebook continues to put pressure on the tech sector, which is down 5.2 percent for March and on track for its worst month since April 2016. 
Privacy concerns for the social media giant were highlighted further on Tuesday when a whistleblower said Canadian company AggregateIQ had developed software to target Republican voters in the 2016 U.S. election. 
Alphabet shares fell 4.5 percent after an appeals courts resurrected a multibillion dollar copyright case brought by Oracle Corp against the company. 
Nvidia was another weak spot, falling 7.8 percent after the chipmaker temporarily suspended self-driving tests across the globe.
Tesla shares were off 8.2 percent after the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board opened a field investigation of last week's fatal Tesla crash and vehicle fire.
Twitter fell 12 percent after short-seller Citron Research called the stock "most vulnerable" to privacy regulations.
Declining issues outnumbered advancing ones on the NYSE by a 2.12-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 3.36-to-1 ratio favored decliners.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.57 billion shares, compared to the 7.37 billion average for the full session over the last 20 trading days. 
(Additional reporting by Chuck Mikolajczak
Editing by Susan Thomas)



UPDATE 3-Oil prices fall on surprise U.S. inventory rise; China crude volatile - Reuters News
28-Mar-2018 03:13:42 PM
Brent falls below $70/barrel, WTI dips below $65/barrel
Saudi Arabia proposes long-term supply management with Russia
High volumes for Shanghai crude, but also high volatility
Shanghai crude falls 3.75 percent to 410 yuan/barrel
Adds comment, updates prices
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Oil prices fell on Wednesday, with Brent dropping back below $70 per barrel and U.S. West Texas Intermediate dipping below $65, pulled down by a report of increasing U.S. crude inventories that surprised many traders.
U.S. WTI crude futures were at $64.72 a barrel by 0700 GMT, down 53 cents, or 0.8 percent, from their previous settlement.
Brent crude futures were at $69.69 per barrel, down 42 cents, or 0.6 percent.
Traders said the falls came after the American Petroleum Institute (API) late on Tuesday reported a surprise 5.3 million barrels rise in crude stocks in the week to March 23, to 430.6 million barrels.
"Crude futures are trading lower in response to a surprise build in API data," said Sukrit Vijayakar, director of energy consultancy Trifecta, in a note.
Official U.S. inventory data will be published by the Energy Information Administration (EIA) late on Wednesday.
Robert Carnell, chief economist and head of research at Dutch bank ING in Asia told the Reuters Global Markets Forum on Wednesday that "more supply coming from the U.S." would also likely weigh on oil prices.
U.S. oil production has already jumped by almost a quarter since mid-2016, to 10.4 million barrels per day (bpd), taking it past top exporter Saudi Arabia and within reach of the biggest producer, Russia, which pumps around 11 million bpd.
Wednesday's price falls came despite Saudi Arabia saying it was working with Russia on a historic long-term pact that could extend controls over world crude supplies by major exporters for many years.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Reuters that Riyadh and Moscow were considering greatly extending a short-term alliance on oil curbs that began in January 2017 after a crash in crude prices, with a partnership to manage supplies potentially growing "to a 10-to-20-year agreement."

VOLATILE SHANGHAI CRUDE
In Asia, Shanghai crude oil futures posted high volumes and volatile trade on their third day of trading.
Spot Shanghai crude futures were down 3.75 percent on Wednesday, to 410.4 yuan ($65.37) per barrel by 0700 GMT.
In dollar-terms, that puts Chinese crude prices significantly below Brent and only slightly above U.S. WTI.
Since Shanghai crude oil futures were launched on March 26, it would have been profitable to buy the spread between Brent and Shanghai crudes, which has risen from $1.60 per barrel on Monday to $4.60 on Wednesday, while shorting the Shanghai premium over WTI, which has narrowed from $3.10 a barrel on Monday to just 30 cents on Wednesday.
Greg McKenna, chief market strategist at futures brokerage AxiTrader, said he hoped Shanghai crude "gets a lot of traction and we end up with three established global benchmarks", but he cautioned that "the first couple of days have been volatile".
($1 = 6.2782 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; editing by Aaron Sheldrick and Richard Pullin)



EXCLUSIVE-OPEC, Russia consider 10- to 20-year oil alliance -Saudi Crown Prince - Reuters News
28-Mar-2018 02:41:23 AM
Adds analysts' comments, background
By Richard Mably and Yara Bayoumy
NEW YORK, March 27 (Reuters) - Saudi Arabia and Russia are working on a historic long-term pact that could extend controls over world crude supplies by major exporters for many years.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman told Reuters that Riyadh and Moscow were considering a deal to greatly extend a short-term alliance on oil curbs that began in January 2017 after a crash in crude prices. 
"We are working to shift from a year-to-year agreement to a 10 to 20 year agreement," the crown prince told Reuters in an interview in New York late on Monday. 
"We have agreement on the big picture, but not yet on the detail." 
Russia, not a member of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, has worked alongside the 14-member group during previous oil gluts, but a 10 to 20 year deal between the two would be unprecedented. 
Top OPEC producer Saudi Arabia recruited Russia and other non-OPEC countries to help drain oversupply when oil prices collapsed to below $30 a barrel in 2016 from over $100 in 2014.
Crude has since recovered to $70 but fast-rising output from U.S. shale producers has capped prices.
"This is all about whether the arrangement is a short-term expedient to deal with this particular crisis in the oil market, or whether it reflects a realignment in world oil," said oil historian Daniel Yergin, vice chairman at consultancy IHS Markit. 
"OPEC countries want to find a way to institutionalize this relationship rather than to have it be a one-shot deal." 
Robert McNally at consultancy Rapidan Energy Group said Riyadh wanted help in breaking the boom-bust cycles that characterize oil markets by capping crude on the upside as well as by helping lift low oil prices.
"History shows that without a long-term, powerful, competent coherent, disciplined swing producer in the oil markets ... you get space-mountain oil prices. Wild volatility of the sort we have seen in the past 10 to 15 years and that Saudi Arabia and Russia do not want to see again," McNally said.
He said that would require Russia to join Saudi in building spare production capacity to use when prices rise too much.
SAUDI, RUSSIA ALLIANCE "THICKER THAN OIL"
A long-term pact between Moscow and Riyadh would effectively co-opt Russia to the Saudi-led OPEC cartel while strengthening Russia's hand in the Middle East where the United States has long been the dominant super-power. 
News of the potential oil alliance came at a time when the two have been working to cement an economic relationship despite being at odds over the conflict in Syria, where they back opposing sides. 
Riyadh supports rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's army, while Russian and Iranian forces have backed Assad – meaning that Russia effectively sides with Iran, Riyadh's regional arch-foe.
A meeting between the Saudi crown prince and Russian president Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in China in September 2016 was instrumental in bringing Russia on board to support OPEC, non-OPEC oil curbs.
Last October, Saudi King Salman became the first Saudi monarch to visit Russia, providing investment and political support for a Russian economy battered by Western sanctions.
"It is a very important strategic development," Helima Croft at RBC Capital Markets said of a potential 10 to 20 year Saudi-Russia oil collaboration.
"First, the Crown Prince is making the statement, not the oil minister, one more clear sign that he (like Putin) is the final word on his country's oil policy. 
"Second it is one more sign of the major reversal in Saudi-Russia relations. Saudi was a staunch cold war ally of the U.S. Now this Russia-Saudi alliance appears to be thicker than oil and seems to be driven by the personal affinity between Putin and MBS," said Croft. 

ARAMCO IPO LATE 2018, EARLY 2019
The crown prince predicted that world oil demand would not peak until 2040, despite advances in renewable energy technologies and the electric vehicle.
In an attempt to end Saudi Arabia's reliance on oil, he is leading a push to diversify the Saudi economy away from oil and gas by 2030. 
Riyadh plans to raise funds through the flotation of a 5 percent stake in state Saudi oil company Aramco. Time is running out for an initial public offering this year but the crown prince said the IPO could still take place at the end of 2018 or in early 2019, depending on financial market conditions.
Saudi Oil Minister Khalid al-Falih said last week that documentation was ready but that a venue for the IPO had not yet been decided. The New York stock exchange is still in the running for the IPO, alongside London and Hong Kong, but Falih said there was a risk of a "frivolous" legal action if Aramco were listed in the United States. 
(Additional reporting by Stephen Adler, Jessica Resnick-Ault
Editing by Frances Kerry, Toni Reinhold)



PRECIOUS-Gold slips from over 5-week high as trade tensions ease - Reuters News
28-Mar-2018 04:04:47 PM
SPDR Gold holdings down 0.14 pct on Tuesday
Platinum off from near 3-month lows
(Updates prices, adds quote and details)
By Swati Verma
BENGALURU, March 28 (Reuters) - Gold on Wednesday backed away from an over 5-week high touched in the previous session as concerns about a trade war between the United States and China eased, which supported the dollar and reduced the incentive to hold bullion as a safe-haven asset.
Spot gold was down 0.4 percent at $1,339.46 per ounce at 0723 GMT. Prices dropped 0.7 percent on Tuesday, its biggest percentage loss since March 15, after rising to over 5-week highs.
U.S. gold futures for April delivery were down 0.1 percent to $1,341.10 per ounce.
"The gold price is mainly driven by the U.S. dollar ... The risk of trade war is shrinking, which is good for the U.S. dollar," said Ji Ming, chief analyst, Shandong Gold Group.
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six other major currencies, rose 0.2 percent to 89.503 after gaining 0.3 percent on Tuesday, the most since March 20.
The dollar recovered from the five-week low as concerns of a global trade war were eased by optimistic news that the U.S. and China were set to begin trade negotiations, after earlier exchanging threats. 
However, the White House said Trump had discussed trade practices with China in calls on Tuesday with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, which could lead to an escalation of trade tensions.
"Any sort of an announcement that negotiations are being formalized and/or are being taken seriously by both sides (U.S.-China), could provide strength to the greenback and alternatively weigh on precious metals instead," INTL FCStone analyst Edward Meir said in a note.
A firmer dollar makes gold, which is seen as a safe investment in times of political and financial uncertainty, more expensive for holders of other currencies.
Holdings of the SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.14 percent to 846.12 tonnes on Tuesday from 847.30 tonnes on Monday. 
In other precious metals, spot silver was down 0.2 percent at $16.46 per ounce. Silver ended 1 percent lower in the previous session, after rising to a three-week high of $16.80 per ounce.
Platinum was down 0.2 percent at $941 per ounce, having fallen to lowest since early January in the previous session at $935.
Palladium was steady at $971.70 an ounce.
(Reporting by Swati Verma and Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru, Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Sunil Nair) 



GRAINS-Wheat firms after two-day decline, improved U.S. weather weighs - Reuters News
28-Mar-2018 10:31:22 AM
Rains in parts of U.S. southern Plains caps gains in wheat
Soybeans little changed after falling for three sessions
Adds details, quotes
By Naveen Thukral
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat futures ticked higher on Wednesday after falling for the past two sessions, as rains in parts of the U.S. southern Plains improved crop prospects.
Soybeans were little changed while corn ticked higher in positioning ahead of a U.S. Department of Agriculture planting intentions report due on Thursday.
The Chicago Board Of Trade most-active wheat contract gained 0.3 percent to $4.50-1/4 a bushel by 0203 GMT, having lost about 2.3 percent in the past two days.
Soybeans were largely unchanged at $10.19-3/4 a bushel and corn rose 0.2 percent to $3.74-3/4 a bushel.
"The U.S. winter wheat crop had a pretty tough winter period but spring weather has been favourable," said Phin Ziebell, an agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank.
"A large chunk of the rally that we saw in February has gone."
Showers crossing the U.S. Plains on Tuesday should help recharge soil moisture in some areas.
The USDA on Monday rated 13 percent of winter wheat in Kansas, the top producer, in good-to-excellent condition, up from 11 percent last week. However, ratings are down significantly from a year ago, when 38 percent of the state's wheat was rated good to excellent.
The soybean market could face pressure as U.S. farmers are expected to boost plantings this year. 
Analysts expect the USDA to project U.S. soybean plantings for 2018 at a record-high of 91.1 million acres and corn plantings at 89.4 million acres, down from 90.2 million in 2017.
Analysts also expect the USDA to report record-high March 1 corn and soybean stocks, reflecting several years of bumper harvests. 
There was additional pressure stemming from news that Agroconsult, a Brazilian consulting firm, raised its estimate of the country's soybean harvest to 118.9 million tonnes, from 117.5 million previously.
Commodity funds were net sellers of CBOT soybean, wheat, soymeal and corn futures contracts on Tuesday, and net buyers in soyoil, traders said. 
(Reporting by Naveen Thukral; editing by Richard Pullin)



Brazil soybean prices surge as U.S.-China trade spat deepens - Reuters News
28-Mar-2018 05:44:13 AM
By Dominique Patton and Ana Mano
BEIJING/SAO PAULO, March 27 (Reuters) - Chinese importers are paying record harvest-time premiums for Brazilian soybeans as they look to secure supplies amid concern that shipments from the United States may be disrupted by a trade war between Washington and Beijing.
China buys about 60 percent of globally traded soybeans to feed the world's biggest livestock industry. Brazil supplied half of its imports last year while the United States supplied around a third. 
But Beijing has threatened to target soybeans, the United States' biggest agricultural export, in retaliation for measures taken by President Donald Trump's administration aimed at improving terms of trade for the United States.
Demand for beans from top exporter Brazil pushed up premiums on concern that China could curb U.S. purchases. Premiums paid for beans from Brazil's Paranagua port topped $1 per bushel above benchmark international prices, according to Esalq, an agricultural market research body at the University of Sao Paulo.
That was the highest spot premium on record for March, a time when the incoming flood of newly harvested soybeans in Brazil typically weakens premiums.
The premium was up over a third from the 65 cents a bushel buyers were paying on March 1 for April shipments of soy from Paranagua, one of the top grain export terminals in Brazil.
A year ago, Paranagua premiums for spot shipments were just 36 cents over futures, according to Thomson Reuters Eikon data.
"The market is going crazy," said a Beijing-based trader, who declined to be identified as he is not authorized to talk to media.
"Some buyers are still buying due to the good crush margins here, but they're feeling very uncomfortable about the high price," he added.
Buying more Brazilian beans is one of several contingency plans that Chinese buyers are executing to ensure they have the animal feed they need despite the threat of a disruption of supply from the United States.
China's crushers have increasingly favoured Brazilian soybeans over American beans because of their higher protein and oil levels.
Soybeans shipped in April from the Brazilian port of Paranagu√° were priced about $414 per tonne, compared with U.S. soybeans shipped out of the Gulf of Mexico at $403 per ton, according to traders and Thomson Reuters data.
"(There's a) lack of interest coming for U.S. beans presently despite being the cheapest thing in town," one U.S. trader said.
Brazilian officials have previously said they could see increased Chinese demand for Brazilian soy due to growing trade tension between China and the United States.
Brazil has already benefited from an increase in demand for its corn from Mexico, where buyers are also concerned that trade negotiations with the United States could impact U.S. corn exports to its southern neighbor.
The sharp rise in soybean premiums suggests Brazilian exporters are already reaping benefits even before China has taken any action to curb imports from its second-largest supplier.
Drought in neighbouring Argentina, the world's third-largest soy exporter, is driving up global soy prices and stoking demand for beans from elsewhere. 
Rain during harvesting in neighboring Brazil may have also slowed soybean trading, contributing to higher prices, said traders.
Strong demand for biodiesel in Brazil has boosted soy crush margins, raising demand from local crushers and reducing the volume of soybeans available for export, said one Brazil-based trader.
Mato Grosso-based farmer Elso Pozzobon believes some growers may be holding on to their stockpiles in anticipation that prices could rise even further if Sino-U.S. trade tensions escalate.
"Farmers who are not in need of immediate cash are holding on to their beans," he said.
(Reporting by Dominique Patton in Beijing, Ana Mano and Roberto Samora in Sao Paulo and Karl Plume and Michael Hirtzer in Chicago
Editing by Simon Webb and Matthew Lewis)



GRAINS-Wheat firms after two-day decline, improved U.S. weather weighs - Reuters News
28-Mar-2018 10:31:22 AM
Rains in parts of U.S. southern Plains caps gains in wheat
Soybeans little changed after falling for three sessions
Adds details, quotes
By Naveen Thukral
SINGAPORE, March 28 (Reuters) - Chicago wheat futures ticked higher on Wednesday after falling for the past two sessions, as rains in parts of the U.S. southern Plains improved crop prospects.
Soybeans were little changed while corn ticked higher in positioning ahead of a U.S. Department of Agriculture planting intentions report due on Thursday.
The Chicago Board Of Trade most-active wheat contract gained 0.3 percent to $4.50-1/4 a bushel by 0203 GMT, having lost about 2.3 percent in the past two days.
Soybeans were largely unchanged at $10.19-3/4 a bushel and corn rose 0.2 percent to $3.74-3/4 a bushel.
"The U.S. winter wheat crop had a pretty tough winter period but spring weather has been favourable," said Phin Ziebell, an agribusiness economist at National Australia Bank.
"A large chunk of the rally that we saw in February has gone."
Showers crossing the U.S. Plains on Tuesday should help recharge soil moisture in some areas.
The USDA on Monday rated 13 percent of winter wheat in Kansas, the top producer, in good-to-excellent condition, up from 11 percent last week. However, ratings are down significantly from a year ago, when 38 percent of the state's wheat was rated good to excellent.
The soybean market could face pressure as U.S. farmers are expected to boost plantings this year. 
Analysts expect the USDA to project U.S. soybean plantings for 2018 at a record-high of 91.1 million acres and corn plantings at 89.4 million acres, down from 90.2 million in 2017.
Analysts also expect the USDA to report record-high March 1 corn and soybean stocks, reflecting several years of bumper harvests. 
There was additional pressure stemming from news that Agroconsult, a Brazilian consulting firm, raised its estimate of the country's soybean harvest to 118.9 million tonnes, from 117.5 million previously.
Commodity funds were net sellers of CBOT soybean, wheat, soymeal and corn futures contracts on Tuesday, and net buyers in soyoil, traders said. 
(Reporting by Naveen Thukral; editing by Richard Pullin)

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

20180327 Soy Meal Technical View.


Soymeal Technical: 
Correction has paused for now. 
Monday long upper shadows shows technical buying has diminished.  
However, no sign of weakness yet as Friday up candle still holds. 
For strength, prices need to hold above middle Bollinger band level. 
For weakness prices need to break below 376.50.  


Stock & Commodities Related News.

US STOCKS-Wall Street roars back as trade war fears fade - Reuters News
27-Mar-2018 04:54:23 AM
Wall Street has best day since August 2015
Dow sees third-biggest point gain ever
Trade war fears eased as China premier pledges market opening
Microsoft leads indexes higher on Morgan Stanley upgrade
Facebook closes up 
Dow up 2.84 pct, S&P 500 up 2.72 pct, Nasdaq up 3.26 pct
Updates to market close
By Stephen Culp
NEW YORK, March 26 (Reuters) - Wall Street scored its best day in 2-1/2 years and the Dow Jones Industrial Average saw its third-biggest point gain ever on Monday, as trade war fears eased on reports the United States and China are willing to renegotiate tariffs and trade imbalances.
The rally, fueled by technology stocks, came on the heels of the indexes' worst weekly performance since January 2016, the S&P 500's gain making up for less than half of the prior week's near 6 percent loss.
"We saw a really good rally because of potential talks with China," said Dennis Dick, Head of Markets Structure, Proprietary Trader at Bright Trading LLC in Las Vegas. "People are taking advantage of the huge dip last week."
"I don't think you're out of the woods yet. There's political uncertainty," Dick added.
Last week's drop was fueled in part by tensions surrounding U.S. President Donald Trump's move to levy tariffs on up to $60 billion of Chinese imports, in addition to those imposed on solar panels, steel and aluminum.
But tensions were calmed as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang repeated pledges to maintain trade negotiations and ease access to American businesses.
U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said on Sunday he believed Washington could reach agreement with China on some issues but tariffs would not be put on hold "unless we have an acceptable agreement that the president signs off on."
"It's clearly the easing of trade tensions. The comments by Steve Mnuchin late yesterday gave room for negotiation with China," said Oliver Pursche, Chief Market Strategist at Bruderman Asset Management in New York.
But China did call for unity among World Trade Organization members to prevent the United States from "wrecking" the WTO, and urged opposition to Trump's tariffs targeting China's alleged intellectual property theft.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 669.4 points, or 2.84 percent, to 24,202.6. The two larger point gains for the Dow were in October 2008. The S&P 500 gained 70.29 points, or 2.72 percent, to 2,658.55 and the Nasdaq Composite added 227.88 points, or 3.26 percent, to 7,220.54. 7,220.54
The three major U.S. indexes saw their best percentage gains since Aug. 26, 2015.
All 11 major sectors of the S&P 500 closed in positive territory, led by technology and finance indexes, up 4.0 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
The tech sector saw its biggest daily percentage gain since August 2015 and financials had their best day since November 2016.
Microsoft pulled the indexes higher, gaining 7.6 percent. Morgan Stanley upped its price target on the tech company's stock, saying its market value could hit $1 trillion on improved margins and growth in cloud computing. 
Intel advanced 6.3 percent after brokerage Raymond James upgraded the technology to "market perform".
Facebook closed up 0.4 percent following several days of declines as the U.S. Federal Trade Commission announced it was investigating how the company allowed data of 50 million users to get into the hands of Cambridge Analytica. 
The Cboe Volatility Index, the most widely followed barometer of expected near-term volatility for the S&P 500, finished down 3.84 points at 21.03.
Advancing issues outnumbered declining ones on the NYSE by a 3.04-to-1 ratio; on Nasdaq, a 2.27-to-1 ratio favored advancers.
Volume on U.S. exchanges was 7.30 billion shares, below the 7.35 billion average for the last 20 trading days.



UPDATE 3-Oil firm on Middle East tension, though rising U.S. output looms - Reuters News
27-Mar-2018 03:05:42 PM
Concern that U.S. may bring back sanctions against Iran
Surging U.S. output looms over otherwise bullish market
Shanghai crude continues high launch-day trading volumes 
Recasts, updates prices
By Henning Gloystein
SINGAPORE, March 27 (Reuters) - Oil prices were firm on Tuesday, supported by concerns that tensions in the Middle East could lead to supply disruptions, although further rises expected in U.S. crude output loomed over markets.
U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $65.63 a barrel at 0700 GMT, up 8 cents, or 0.1 percent, from their previous settlement.
Brent crude futures were at $70.17 per barrel, up 5 cents, or 0.1 percent.
James Mick, Managing Director and Energy Portfolio Manager with asset management firm Tortoise, said "rising geopolitical tensions" were driving up oil prices. The biggest risk was that the United States could re-introduce sanctions on Iran.
"Crude also received support from OPEC members as Saudi Arabia and Russia both reiterated goals to extend the production cut agreement," Mick said.
Iraq, the second biggest producer within the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) said on Monday that it also supports the producer cartel's agreement to cut oil output.
OPEC, together with a group of non-OPEC producers led by Russia, started withholding production in 2017 in order to prop up prices. The deal to cut is scheduled to last through 2018, and there has been recent support by OPEC's de-facto leader Saudi Arabia to extend the cuts into 2019.
Yet some traders cautioned that such a moved faced opposition.
Stephen Innes, head of trading for Asia/Pacific at futures brokerage OANDA in Singapore said there was "considerable resistance" as current or higher prices opened the possibility that even more U.S. shale producers could come back online.
U.S. crude production - thanks largely to shale, or tight oil drilling - has already jumped by almost a quarter since mid-2016, to 10.4 million barrels per day (bpd), taking it past top exporter Saudi Arabia and within reach of top producer Russia, which pumps around 11 million bpd.
"For oil, we expect the supply deficit of the past couple of quarters to give way to a surplus, driven largely by strong growth in U.S. tight oil supply," Britain's Barclays bank said on Tuesday.
In Asia, Shanghai crude oil futures saw their second day of trading, repeating Monday's high volumes.
Shanghai crude fell over 2 percent to 424 yuan ($67.85) per barrel for its afternoon close at 1500 local time (0700 GMT), down from a last settlement of 433.8 yuan ($69.41).
In dollar-terms, Chinese crude prices are trading between Brent and WTI.
Some traders that the influx of foreign oil money into Shanghai crude futures also contributed to the rise in the yuan to a 7-week high on Tuesday against the dollar.
($1 = 6.2495 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Henning Gloystein; editing by Richard Pullin)



TECHNICALS-Spot gold targets $1,451 in three months - Reuters News
27-Mar-2018 03:03:55 PM
7 (Reuters) - Spot gold may break a resistance at $1,380 per ounce and rise towards the next resistance at $1,451 in three months, as suggested by its wave pattern and a Fibonacci ratio analysis. 
These resistances are identified respectively as 38.2 percent Fibonacci retracement on the downtrend from the Sept. 6, 2011 high of $1,920.30 to the Dec. 3, 2015 low of $1,045.85 and the 100 percent Fibonacci projection level of an upward wave C.
This wave is capable of travelling to $1,451. A trendline falling from $1,920.30 has been broken, and the pullback towards this line could have completed. The wave C seems to have resumed.
A projection analysis based on the rally from $1,122.35 to $1,295.42 reveals a resistance at $1,378, the 100 percent level, a break above which could lead to a gain to $1,418.
The pattern from the Dec. 12, 2017 low of $1,235.92 looks like a pennant, which suggests a target around $1,460. Support is at $1,337, a break below which could cause a loss limited to $1,311. 
** Wang Tao is a Reuters market analyst for commodities and energy technicals. The views expressed are his own.
No information in this analysis should be considered as being business, financial or legal advice. Each reader should consult his or her own professional or other advisers for business, financial or legal advice regarding the products mentioned in the analyses.
(Reporting by Wang Tao; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)



PRECIOUS-Gold up on weaker dollar, Russian tensions - Reuters News
27-Mar-2018 01:06:15 PM
    * Trump expels 60 Russian diplomats from United States
    * SPDR gold holdings fall 0.38 percent on Monday
    * Global trade war fears recede
(Adds quotes, updates prices)
By Eileen Soreng
March 27 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose for a third session on Tuesday as the dollar languished near a five-week low, as investors eyed rising tensions between Russia and the West even as a U.S.-China trade spat appeared to ease.
Spot gold edged up 0.1 percent to $1,354.51 per ounce at 0446 GMT, just off Monday's $1,355.97, the metal's highest level since Feb. 16.
U.S. gold futures for April delivery were flat at $1,354.60 per ounce.
"Gold prices continue to ratchet higher as the U.S. dollar weakens despite equity markets rebounding on easing concerns about the likelihood of a trade war between China and USA," Stephen Innes, APAC trading head at OANDA, said in a note.
"Realistically there are plentitudes of market turmoil in the making that continue to make gold the go-to place to hedge risk."
Against a basket of six other major currencies, the dollar index was flat at 89.043. The index fell to a five-week low of 88.979 on Monday. 
Asian share markets rallied on Tuesday with a revival of investor appetite for riskier assets as reports of talks between the United States and China rekindled hopes a damaging trade war could be averted. 
Gold, which is sought as a store of value in times of political and financial uncertainty, becomes less expensive when the greenback weakens.
On Monday, gold prices rose to a more than five-week high after the United States said it would expel 60 Russian diplomats, joining governments across Europe in punishing the Kremlin for a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.
Russia's Foreign Ministry called the expulsions a "provocative gesture".
Analysts also see the yellow metal being supported by last week's statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve which forecast at least two more hikes for 2018 instead of the three that many had expected.
"The Federal Reserve's March meeting emerged as a turning point for gold," analysts at UBS said in a note.
UBS on Monday raised its three-month forecast range to $1,300-$1,400 per ounce, and six- and 12-month forecasts to $1,375.
Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's largest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, fell 0.38 percent to 847.30 tonnes on Monday from 850.54 tonnes on Friday. 
In other precious metals, spot silver gained 0.6 percent to $16.75 per ounce. In the previous session prices hit $16.79, their highest since March 7.
Platinum was up 0.5 percent at $957 per ounce, while palladium rose 0.3 percent to $976.47 per ounce.
(Reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru; editing by Richard Pullin) 



UPDATE 2-Hope for Argentine soy recovery dashed by scant weekend rains - Reuters News
27-Mar-2018 02:04:56 AM
Updates CBOT context, adds comment from Buenos Aires Grains Exchange
By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES, March 26 (Reuters) - Rains expected to relieve Argentina's drought-hit soy and corn crops failed to materialize over the weekend, all but ending hope that yields might recover from four months of unrelenting sun with more heat and dryness expected over the days ahead.
U.S. soybean futures touched a one-week high on Monday after the disappointing weather increased concern that dryness in the world's No. 3 exporter would tighten global supplies. It was not the first time forecasters got it wrong since drought descended on the normally fertile Pampas grains belt in November.
"The weather differed from the forecasts again," said Esteban Copati, the Buenos Aires Grains Exchange's chief analyst. "The storm front dodged most of the agricultural region and even the areas that registered rainfall accumulated amounts well below what was predicted by the different forecast models."
Argentina is the world's biggest supplier of soymeal livestock feed, used to fatten pigs and cattle from Europe to Asia. The drought has put upward pressure on food prices, making it harder for poor countries to feed themselves. 
"We had a few showers this weekend, but none of them were important," said Francisco Abello, a partner in the TraulenCO SA farm management company. "Even if it rains going forward, yields are not going to change much. Most of our soybeans are done."
As of Monday, Argentina looked increasingly hot and dry over the 10 days ahead, said Isaac Hankes, a weather research analyst at Thomson Reuters' Lanworth commodities and weather forecaster.
"The heat won't fully kick in until April 6 to the 10th, but it could be intense and dryness is likely throughout the 10-day forecast," Hankes added.
Soy crop estimates started the 2017-18 season in the 55 million tonne range, but have been slashed to around 40 million.
"YIELDS ARE FIXED"
Meteorologists had projected weekend rains of one to two centimeters (0.4-0.8 inch) in key farm areas of Cordoba, Santa Fe and Entre Rios provinces. But the showers never came. 
"No matter how much it rains now, it won't help. Yields are fixed," Sofia Corina, a crop analyst at the Rosario grains exchange, said on Monday. 
"The first soy to be harvested shows a lot of variability from two to five tonnes per hectare. Soy that was planted later in the season is more affected by the drought, and a lot of those fields will not be harvested at all," Corina said.
The first corn to be harvested has shown better-than-expected yields but later-planted corn was harder hit by the dryness. Farmers were expected not to even bother trying to harvest later-planted corn fields, Corina added.
The scant rains that fell on parts of the Pampas did little or nothing to relieve parched soy and corn fields. The Southern Hemisphere autumn harvesting season started last week.
"We had practically no rain on our land over the weekend," said Pedro Vigneau, who operates a 1,400-hectare (3,500-acre) farm in the central Buenos Aires district of Carlos Casares.
Early planted soy benefited from good ground moisture at the start of the season, Vigneau said. But as the harvest continues, he said yields will fall as later crops, planted under drier conditions, are brought in.
This month the Rosario exchange slashed its soy crop forecast to 40 million tonnes from a previous 46.5 million while cutting its corn estimate to 32 million tonnes from 35 million.
The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange meanwhile cut its soybean harvest estimate to 39.5 million tonnes from 42 million and reduced its corn crop forecast to 32 million tonnes from 34 million tonnes. 
(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein
Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe and Marguerita Choy)



VEGOILS-Palm declines on stronger ringgit, production outlook - Reuters News
27-Mar-2018 01:12:14 PM
Palm trading at one-week lows
Malaysia March, April output seen rising - trader
By Emily Chow
KUALA LUMPUR, March 27 (Reuters) - Malaysian palm oil futures fell in early trade on Tuesday, trading near one-week lows, as a stronger ringgit and expectations of a rise in production in the coming months weighed on the edible oil's prices.
The benchmark palm oil contract for June delivery on the Bursa Malaysia Derivatives Exchange was down 0.6 percent to 2,419 ringgit ($624.74) a tonne at the midday break. It earlier fell to 2,413 ringgit, near a one-week low hit in the previous session. 
Trading volumes stood at 14,310 lots of 25 tonnes each at the midday break. 
"The market is down on a stronger ringgit," said a palm oil futures trader. 
"Production in March and April is also expected to be high."
Gains in the ringgit, palm oil's currency of trade, typically weighs on the tropical oil as it makes it more expensive for holders of foreign currencies. 
The ringgit strengthened 0.6 percent against the dollar around noon on Tuesday to 3.8720, its strongest level in two months.
Expectations of higher production for the full month of March and April are also pressuring palm's prices. Output of the edible oil usually gains seasonally around the second quarter of the year before peaking in the third quarter. 
Malaysia's full-year output is seen rising to 20.5 million tonnes in 2018, its highest level on record, as crops shake off the lingering effects of a dry weather El Nino phenomenon and as young trees come to maturity and increase harvested areas. 
In other related oils, the Chicago Board of Trade's May soybean oil contract rose 0.2 percent, while the May soybean oil on China's Dalian Commodity Exchange edged 0.1 percent higher. 
The Dalian May palm oil contract was up 0.3 percent.
Palm oil prices are impacted by movements in rival edible oils as they compete in the global vegetable oils market. 
(Reporting by Emily Chow; Editing by Amrutha Gayathri)



GRAINS-Soybeans edge lower despite easing fears of possible trade war - Reuters News
27-Mar-2018 10:03:55 AM
Soybeans fall further from one-week high hit on Monday
Wheat falls, crop condition improves
Corn edges higher 
By Colin Packham
SYDNEY, March 27 (Reuters) - U.S. soybean futures edged lower on Tuesday, retreating further from a one-week high touched in the previous session, despite easing fears of a potential trade war between the world's two largest economies.
Wheat fell, lingering near more than a one-month low, while corn edged higher.
The most active soybean futures on the Chicago Board Of Trade were down 0.1 percent at $10.24-1/2 a bushel, having closed down 0.3 percent on Monday after prices had earlier hit a high of $10.40-1/4 a bushel - the highest since March 19.
Reports suggested that Chinese and U.S. officials were busy negotiating to avert a trade war.
While the market had been buoyed on Monday by China's decision to so far not include soybeans for possible tariff increases, analysts said uncertainty may also impact a widely watched U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) report this week, pressuring prices.
"The market is also focussed on the USDA's Prospective Plantings report. The report will have the first broad surveys of U.S. farmer's planting intentions for summer crops in season 2018," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy, Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
"Farmer's latent worries about what a trade war might do to soybean prices may mean that price signal is not the only consideration. The market is approaching this plantings report with an unusual degree of uncertainty."
The most active corn futures were up 0.2 percent to $3.74-3/4 a bushel, having closed down 0.9 percent in the previous session.
Rains expected to relieve Argentina's drought-hit soy and corn crops failed to materialize over the weekend, all but ending hope that yields might recover from four months of unrelenting sun with more heat and dryness expected over the days ahead.
The most active wheat futures were down 0.2 percent to $4.52-3/4 a bushel , having closed down 1.3 percent on Monday when prices hit a low of $4.46-1/2 a bushel - the lowest since Feb. 22.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) late on Monday rated 13 percent of top winter wheat producer Kansas in good-to-excellent condition, up from 11 percent a week earlier.

Stock & Commodities Related News

US STOCKS-Wall St surges as trade war fears cool - Reuters News
26-Mar-2018 10:15:32 PM
Microsoft, Intel up after upgrades by brokerages 
Boeing, Caterpillar surge amid easing trade war fears
Wall St coming off its worst week in over two years
Indexes up: Dow 1.73 pct, S&P 1.66 pct, Nasdaq 2.02 pct
Updates to open
By Sruthi Shankar
March 26 (Reuters) - U.S. stocks rose across the board on Monday as fears about a trade war between the United States and China eased following reports that the two countries were willing to negotiate tariffs and trade imbalances.
All the 11 major S&P indexes were up, led by a 2.4 percent gain in technology and financial indexes. Gainers on the New York Stock Exchange outnumbered losers for a 9.30-to-1 ratio and for a 7.39-to-1 ratio on the Nasdaq.
The United States asked China in a letter last week to slash tariffs on U.S. autos, buy more U.S.-made semiconductors and give U.S. firms greater access to the Chinese financial sector, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Monday the country would treat foreign and domestic firms equally, not force foreign firms to transfer technology and would strengthen intellectual property rights, repeating promises that have failed to placate Washington.
Stock markets were gripped by fears of a global trade war after President Donald Trump last week moved to impose tariffs on Chinese imports of up to $60 billion, adding to the import restrictions he has already placed on solar panels, steel and aluminum among others.
"There are some tentative signs that fears of an escalation of trade tensions are beginning to ease," Craig Erlam, a market analyst at OANDA, wrote in a note to clients.
"A rebound in global equities overnight is offering the market some optimism of stabilization after last week's rout."
At 9:34 a.m. ET, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 1.73 percent at 23,939.32. The S&P 500 gained 1.66 percent to 2,631.14 and the Nasdaq Composite rose more than 2 percent to 7,134.25.
Microsoft jumped 6 percent and was the biggest driver of the three main indexes. Morgan Stanley raised its price target on Microsoft's stock, saying the software company could hit $1 trillion in market value with growing public adoption of the cloud and improving margins.
Shares of Boeing and United Technologies were up about 2.8 percent. Along with other industrial stocks, they have taken a beating in the wake of Trump's tariffs plans due to their exposure to China.
Last week, the three main U.S. indexes posted their steepest weekly declines since January 2016 as the fears of a global trade war added to jitters about a faster pace of U.S. interest rate hikes and fears of increased regulations to the high-flying technology sector in the wake of Facebook's data scandal.
Facebook fell 1.4 percent, after losing $75 billion last week amid outcry over the social media company's handling of users' data.
Intel gained more than 3.4 percent after brokerage Raymond James upgraded the stock to "market perform".
(Reporting by Sruthi Shankar in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva)



UPDATE 7-Oil prices dip on profit taking after big weekly gain - Reuters News
26-Mar-2018 11:38:07 PM
Speculators take profits
Stock markets recover on potential U.S.-China trade talks
U.S. rig count hits three-year high, pointing to rising output
China launches Shanghai crude oil futures
Refreshes prices, adds commentary, changes byline, updates dateline (previous LONDON
By Ayenat Mersie
NEW YORK, March 26 (Reuters) - Crude oil futures slipped on Monday as investors cashed in some profits from last week's strong rise, but concerns about Saudi-Iran tensions kept losses in check.
Brent crude futures were down 58 cents at $69.89 a barrel at 11:28 a.m. EDT (1528 GMT). U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures lost 57 cents to $65.31.
Last week, Brent gained 6.4 percent and WTI rose 5.7 percent, the strongest weekly gains since July. 
"I don't see anything extraordinarily bearish in the market today. I think some folks here are just...happy to take profits," said Bob Yawger, director of energy futures at Mizuho in New York. 
Although crude and product futures slipped on Monday, most share prices for energy companies and refiners in particular were up, Yawger said. The S&P Energy Index was up 0.4 percent. 
Global stocks came off six-week lows on reports that the United States and China were set to begin trade talks, easing fears about a trade war.Analysts had been concerned that a trade war could hurt oil demand.
U.S. President Donald Trump last week signed a memorandum that could impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of imports from China.
Crude was also pressured by a rise in the number of active U.S. oil rigs to a three-year high of 804 on Friday, implying further rises in production. U.S. oil output has already jumped by a quarter since mid-2016 to 10.4 million barrels per day (bpd).
"With US crude production likely to be close to 10.5 million bpd by now and NGL (natural gas liquids) output also increasing strongly, there is a clear chance that year-on-year supply growth in the U.S. could at least temporarily hit 2 million bpd over the summer months," JBC analysts wrote.
The market found some support from rising Middle East tensions. 
Saudi air defenses shot down ballistic missiles fired by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi militia on Sunday, some of which targeted Saudi capital Riyadh.
In Asia, Shanghai crude oil futures made a strong debut in terms of volume as investors and commodity merchants bought into the world's newest financial oil trading instrument.
Hedge funds and other money managers raised their net long U.S. crude futures and options positions in the week to March 20 after two weeks of cutting bullish bets, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) said on Friday.
(Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London and Henning Gloystein in Singapore
Editing by David Goodman and David Gregorio)



UPDATE 5-Shanghai crude futures roar into action as global merchants dominate trade - Reuters News
26-Mar-2018 06:57:12 PM
Glencore does first trade with Chinese trader Unipec
Trafigura, Freepoint among first foreigners to participate
Retail, institutional trading help boost volumes
China crude futures seen strengthening influence of yuan
Adds scale of China market in paragraph 4, Unipec as counterparty to the Glencore trade in paragraph 22
By Meng Meng, Josephine Mason and Henning Gloystein
BEIJING/SINGAPORE, March 26 (Reuters) - China's crude futures kicked off to a roaring start on Monday as western traders and Chinese majors eagerly traded the world's newest financial oil instrument, which many expect to become a third global price benchmark alongside Brent and WTI crude. 
Global commodity trader and miner Glencore, and big merchants Trafigura, Freepoint Commodities and Mercuria were among the first to trade the new contract, even as concerns remain that smaller overseas investors may struggle with unfamiliar rules and complex regulation. 
The launch of the yuan-denominated oil futures - China's first commodity derivative open to foreign investors - marked the culmination of a decade-long push by the Shanghai Futures Exchange (ShFE) to give the world's largest energy consumer more power in pricing crude sold to Asia. 
China is the world's second-largest oil consumer and in 2017 overtook the United States as the biggest importer of crude oil. Its demand is already a key determinant of global oil prices. 
With major overseas traders displaying a strong appetite to punt in China's vast derivatives market, Shanghai's turnover challenged Brent volumes during Asian hours, reflecting the potential for arbitrage trade with oil markets in the United States, Europe and Oman. 
"Whether this will have any real bearing on the other crude benchmarks, I'm not quite sure, but traders love a new toy, so I applaud China for bringing in something that could stoke up some volatility," said Matt Stanley, a fuel broker with Freight Investor Services (FIS) in Dubai. 
First-day enthusiasm saw 20 million barrels of September oil changing hands in Shanghai by the 3:00 p.m. (0700 GMT) close, but it's not clear the pace will hold in the night session, which runs from 9:00 pm to 2:30 am, or on into coming days. 
The 15.4 million barrels done in Shanghai's 2-1/2-hour morning session initially topped the Brent May crude contract, before Europe's benchmark came alive around 0500 GMT. 
"We've seen already this morning it appears to be a liquid contract from the off," said David Martin, JPMorgan Chase & Co's Asia Pacific head of global clearing, at an event for the launch in Shanghai. 

ARBITRAGE ATTRACTION
Analysts said western oil traders were attracted to Shanghai's oil contracts for the potential arbitrage between China's market specifics and global oil fundamentals as reflected by U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) and international Brent crude futures. 
WTI crude is the main benchmark for U.S. crude grades and a crucial hedging tool for the U.S. oil industry. Brent is priced off of North Sea oil and is a primary value marker for Europe, Africa and Middle East crudes. Both futures contracts are commonly used by financial traders. 
"Prices assessed at the Shanghai exchange will reflect China's crude supply and demand," said Sushant Gupta, research director at energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie. 
Despite the first-day success, the yuan-denominated trading and a blend of new rules and regulatory burdens could in the long-run hamper sustained take-up on the Shanghai International Energy Exchange (INE), executives at a dozen banks and brokers and experts involved in the launch told Reuters. 
Still, China offers the potential for a deep, liquid market, buoyed by an explosion of interest from mom-and-pop investors that has supported its vast commodities derivative markets from apples to iron ore in Shanghai, Zhengzhou and Dalian. 
The yuan-denominated contract will also help Beijing's efforts to internationalise the nation's currency, said Woodmac's Gupta. 
WESTERN MERCHANTS ACTIVE 
A surprise to many was that Glencore executed Shanghai's first crude deal. Swiss-based commodity traders Trafigura and Mercuria, U.S.-based Freepoint, and independent refiner Shandong Wonfull were other early participants.
"Glencore's first bid reflected the high participation and enthusiasm of foreign traders for Chinese crude oil futures," said Yang Xidong, general manager of Xinhu Futures Co Ltd. 
"We were active with Glencore today and I've seen Trafigura in it and Freepoint ... We take the view that the contract is viable and adds to the crude oil trading value chain, and is here to stay," said Kevin Tan, executive vice president at Singapore-based brokerage Straits Financial Services. 
Straits said it brokered the first trade for Glencore and cleared the deal through Xinhu Futures. Chinese trader Unipec told Reuters it was the counterparty for the Glencore deal. 
The early involvement of big international traders was a morale boost to the fledging market, but state oil majors like PetroChina and Sinopec are expected to provide a significant amount of liquidity in the long-term. 
Unipec, trading arm of Asia's largest refiner Sinopec, has inked a deal with a western oil major to buy Middle East crude priced against the Shanghai futures contract, a senior company official said on Monday. 
This could be seen as competition to the Dubai Mercantile Exchange's (DME) crude futures  and potentially the assessments published by price reporting agency S&P Global Platts. 
Speculative retail and institutional investors also propped up the launch-day's liquidity, said Chen Tong, Shanghai-based senior crude analyst at First Futures. 
"In the short-term, we believe price fluctuations will reflect domestic crude oil supply and demand. In the long run, yuan crude price will mirror the moves of Brent," he said. 
TALE OF THE TAPE
The most-active September contract opened at 440.4 yuan ($69.78) per barrel versus a reference point of 416 yuan, jumping as high as 447.1 yuan ($70.85) in the first few minutes. 
The jump came after Brent futures for May delivery opened above $70 per barrel for the first time since January on expectations OPEC-leader Saudi Arabia may extend supply cuts into 2019, as well as over concern that the United States may re-introduce sanctions against Iran. 
At the end of afternoon session, Shanghai prices were up 3.34 percent at 430.2 yuan, with 40,656 lots traded. 
Brent and WTI, in contrast, were down by that time, weighed down by concerns over a looming U.S. trade dispute with China.
Chinese exchanges count each side of a trade - the buy and the sell - as two lots, meaning the total oil changing hands was 20,328 lots, equal to 20.3 million barrels. 
($1 = 6.3109 Chinese yuan)
(Reporting by Josephine Mason and Meng Meng in BEIJING and Henning Gloystein in SINGAPORE; Additional reporting by Ruby Lian in SHANGHAI, Aizhu Chen in BEIJING, and Roslan Khasawneh in SINGAPORE; Editing by Tom Hogue)



Gold Prices Pull Back From 5-Week Highs as Trade Tensions Ease - MIST
26-Mar-2018 11:21:53 PM
Investing -
Gold prices turned lower on Monday, pulling away from five-week highs after reports that the U.S. and China had started negotiations over escalating trade tensions eased fears over a possible all-out trade war.
Gold futures for April delivery on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange were down $4.5 or 0.33% to $1,345.4 a troy ounce by 04:19 AM ET (08:19 GMT).
Gold prices rose to a five-week high of $1350.40 on Friday as a weaker dollar and heightened trade tensions bolstered demand for the precious metal.
The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that Beijing and Washington were negotiating to improve U.S. access to Chinese markets, after a week of threats to use trade tariffs.
Recent worries that protectionist trade policies from the U.S. and China might result in a trade war have boosted gold, amid fears over the impact on global economic growth.
The report saw the safe haven yen come off 16-month highs against the dollar and U.S. stock futures rebound as investor sentiment recovered.
The U.S. dollar index, which measures the greenback's strength against a basket of six major currencies, was down 0.15% to a near one-month low of 88.97.
Investors seek out gold as a store of value during times of geopolitical uncertainty or market turmoil, while a weaker dollar makes the dollar-denominated metal cheaper for holders of other currencies.
In other precious metal trade, silver futures were down 0.16% at $16.555 a troy ounce, while platinum futures were little changed for the day at $954.9.
Among base metals, copper futures were down 1.44 % to $2.950 a pound. Recent trade fears have pressured prices to their weakest levels since December after they hit a nearly four-year high late last year.
Copyright (c) 2018 Sourced by MIST all rights reserved



PRECIOUS-Gold at more that five-week high as U.S. expels Russian diplomats - Reuters News
26-Mar-2018 11:14:27 PM
Gold specs cut net long position by 23,822 contracts -CFTC
 (Recasts, updates prices)
By Zandi Shabalala
LONDON, March 26 (Reuters) - Gold prices rose to more than five-week highs on Monday after the United States said it would expel 60 Russian diplomats, prompting investor flight into assets considered safe havens.
The United States was joining governments across Europe in taking action against the Kremlin after a nerve agent attack on a former Russian spy in Britain.
Gold, which is sought as a store of value in times of political and financial uncertainty, rose to its highest since Feb. 16 at $1,355.85 an ounce.
By 1500 GMT spot gold was up 0.6 percent to $1,355.15 while U.S. gold futures for April delivery added 0.4 percent to $1,355.
"I would attribute the rise in gold in the afternoon to the political developments," said Quantitative Commodity Research consultant Peter Fertig. "You could expect the Russians to retaliate."
The dollar index, which measures the greenback against six major currencies, fell to a five-week low.
The spectre of a global trade stand-off, however, appeared to be receding after the United States and South Korea agreed to revise a trade pact, with U.S. automakers winning improved market access and Korean steelmakers hit with quotas but avoiding hefty tariffs.
The Wall Street Journal, meanwhile, reported that the United States and China had started negotiations to improve U.S. access to Chinese markets.
Analysts said gold continued to be supported by last week's statement from the U.S. Federal Reserve, which forecast at least two more increases to interest rates in 2018, one less than previously expected by many observers.
Investors continued to monitor other developments, such as Trump's appointment of John Bolton as national security adviser and fresh tensions between Saudi Arabia and Yemen's Houthi militia.
The appointment of Bolton, who has previously advocated using military force against North Korea and Iran, last week provoked strong reactions worldwide.
Speculators cut their net long positions in gold in the week to March 20 by 23,822 contracts to 121,838 contracts, U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data showed on Friday.
"Short term, we expect gold to hover around $1,350 for the next few weeks. We estimate gold to close the year around $1,410-$1,420," said Joshua Rotbart, managing partner at Hong Kong-based J. Rotbart & Co.
Among other precious metals, silver climbed 1.3 percent to $16.74 an ounce, platinum rose 0.8 percent to $954.30 and palladium was up 0.6 percent at $982.20.
(Additional reporting by Eileen Soreng in Bengaluru Editing by Dale Hudson and David Goodman) 



Disappointing weekend rain ends hope for Argentine soy recovery - Reuters News
26-Mar-2018 10:23:06 PM
By Hugh Bronstein
BUENOS AIRES, March 26 (Reuters) - Rains expected to relieve Argentina's drought-hit soy and corn fields over the weekend failed to materialize, all but ending hope that yields might partially recover from four months of hot, dry weather, farmers and analysts said on Monday.
Adverse weather in the world's No. 3 soybean and corn supplier has put upward pressure on food prices, making it harder for poor countries to feed themselves.
"We had a few showers this weekend, but none of them were important," said Francisco Abello, a partner in the TraulenCO SA farm management company. "Even if it rains well going forward, yields are not going to change much. Most of our soybeans are done."
Chicago soybeans rose on Monday as concerns over trade tensions between China and the United States eased, shifting attention back to crop damage in Argentina.
Meteorologists had projected weekend rains in key farm areas of Cordoba, Santa Fe and Entre Rios provinces. But the showers never came. 
"The forecasts let us down again," said Sofia Corina, farm analyst at the Rosario grains exchange
"No matter how much it rains now, it won't help. Yields are fixed. The first soy to be harvested shows a lot of variability from two to five tonnes per hectare. Soy that was planted later in the season is more affected by the drought, and a lot of those fields will not be harvested at all," Corina said.
The first corn to be harvested has shown better-than-expected yields but later-planted corn was harder hit by the dryness. Farmers were expected not to try to harvest many of their later-planted corn fields, Corina added.
Rains of one to two centimeters that fell on parts of the usually fertile Pampas grains belt did nothing to relieve fields parched by unusually dry weather that started in November. The Southern Hemisphere fall harvesting season started last week.
This month the Rosario exchange slashed its soy crop forecast to 40 million tonnes from a previous 46.5 million while cutting its corn estimate to 32 million tonnes from 35 million.
The Buenos Aires Grains Exchange meanwhile cut its soybean harvest estimate to 39.5 million tonnes from 42 million and reduced its corn crop forecast to 32 million tonnes from 34 million tonnes. 
(Reporting by Hugh Bronstein
Editing by Jeffrey Benkoe)



GRAINS-Soybeans higher as U.S.-China jitters ease, Argentina stays dry - Reuters News
26-Mar-2018 08:09:28 PM
Soybeans touch one-week high in moderate rebound
Investors see signs of lessening U.S.-China trade tension
Forecasters still cutting Argentina crop outlook
Corn also firm, wheat eases after one-week high
Updates with European trading, changes byline/dateline
By Gus Trompiz and Naveen Thukral
PARIS/SINGAPORE, March 26 (Reuters) - Chicago soybeans rose on Monday as concerns over trade tensions between China and the United States eased, shifting attention back towards crop damage in Argentina.
Corn also firmed, while wheat edged lower after touching a one-week high as investors assessed the impact of rain in parched U.S. growing belts.
The Chicago Board of Trade's most-active soybean contract gained 0.5 percent to $10.33-1/2 a bushel after hitting a one-week peak of $10.40-1/4.
Soymeal, of which Argentina is the world's biggest exporter, was up 1 percent at $381.8 a tonne.
Soybean futures had slipped on Friday as traders feared an escalating trade dispute between the United States and China would disrupt soybean flows between the world's biggest producer and the world's largest importer of the oilseed. 
But investors took comfort on Monday from reports that the two countries may enter trade talks, helping share prices to rebound. 
In Argentina, crop analysts were continuing to lower their harvest outlook because of dry weather and meteorologists said recent rain was scattered and may have limited benefit to crops as harvesting approaches.
"The weather window in Argentina (is) rapidly closing as crops enter into late grain-fill and full-maturation stages," Thomson Reuters Agriculture Research analysts said in a note.
The Buenos Aires grains exchange last week cut its estimate of the country's soy harvest to 39.5 million tonnes from 42 million tonnes previously.
CBOT corn was up 0.4 percent at $3.78-3/4 a bushel, tracking soybeans. It also touched a one-week peak earlier in the session at $3.80-3/4.
Like soybeans, corn is among agricultural products imported by China and a major crop grown by Argentina.
Market attention was turning towards this Thursday's U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) plantings report, with rising expectations that soybeans will overtake corn in acreage this year.
CBOT wheat ticked down 0.4 percent to $4.58-1/4 a bushel after hitting a one-week high at $4.63-3/4.
Traders were assessing rainfall in the U.S. Plains to see if it would improve the condition of parched winter wheat crops. The return of rain last week helped to push futures lower.
"U.S. hard red winter (HRW) wheat crops remain at risk of falling yields," said Tobin Gorey, director of agricultural strategy at Commonwealth Bank of Australia. 
"The HRW crop regions did get a little rain last week but not enough where it was most needed."
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission's weekly commitments of traders report on Friday showed that non-commercial traders -- a category that includes hedge funds -- increased their net short position in CBOT wheat and cut their net long position in corn and soybeans in the week to March 20. 
(Reporting by Gus Trompiz in Paris and Naveen Thukral in Singapore
Editing by Kenneth Maxwell and David Goodman)



RPT-COLUMN-Funds finally hit the brakes after their CBOT buying spree –Braun - Reuters News
26-Mar-2018 07:30:00 PM
Repeats for wider distribution. The opinions expressed here are those of the author, a market analyst for Reuters.
By Karen Braun
CHICAGO, March 26 (Reuters) - Speculators broke an eight-week buying trend in Chicago-traded corn and soybeans last week after their bullish bets had mounted at a record pace.
Selling also prevailed in the soybean products and in wheat, though the cumulative effect on funds' optimistic view toward futures and options on the Chicago Board of Trade was not as drastic as the week's price activity may have suggested.
In the week ended March 20, hedge funds and other money managers cut their net long position in CBOT corn futures and options to 213,231 contracts from 233,063 in the prior week, according to data from the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission.
Trade estimates had pointed to a sharper decline of at least 59,000 contracts last week. May corn futures dove 4.4 percent during the reporting period, the contract's largest percentage loss in a five-day stretch since August.
Money managers also modestly trimmed bullish bets in CBOT soybeans to 195,522 futures and options contracts from 208,200 in the previous week, which was more in line with expectations.
In soybean meal, funds dialed back their net long position to 99,478 futures and options contracts from 111,449 a week earlier. They also increased their net short in soybean oil to 24,920 futures and options contracts from 21,221.
Technical selling was prominent in the corn and soybean markets through March 20, and wheat losses offered additional pressure to corn. Rains for drought-stricken crops in Argentina and the southern U.S. Plains also had traders on the sell button.
In the days since, technical buying as well as shrinking forecasts for the Argentine corn and soybean crops had futures marching back after Monday's steep losses.
But jitters over trade tension between the United States and China sent market participants into a frenzy on Friday, and corn and soybean futures plummeted early on in the session. Both countries had issued a list of one another's goods that were up for tariffs, though China's did not appear to include soybeans as many had feared.
At the end of Friday's volatile trading session, May corn settled up 1-1/4 cents while May soybeans settled down 1-1/2 cents, well off the earlier lows.
Nonetheless, trade sources indicate that commodity funds have been net sellers of soybeans and soybean oil and straight buyers in corn and soybean meal over the last three sessions. 
WHEAT MOVES
Although some much-needed rain arrived for hard red winter wheat in the U.S. Plains a week ago, the drought has taken a toll and the crop is unlikely to dazzle. Commodity funds generally appear to agree.
In the week ended March 20, money managers slightly extended their net long in K.C. wheat futures and options to 29,586 contracts from 28,946 in the prior week, though they also reduced outright long positions in the process.
But Chicago wheat received no love from the market as CBOT futures got battered during the period. The week included the most-active contract's largest three-day percentage loss in almost five years, which was 7.8 percent.
Money managers ramped up their net short in Chicago wheat futures and options to 56,107 contracts from 35,584 in the week before. This was linked to the wetter pattern across the drought-stricken U.S. Plains as well as weak demand for U.S. wheat.
But toward the end of last week, forecasts for this same region started to trend drier. Friday also featured some bargain-buying following the earlier sell-off, and these factors probably mean that funds are heading into the week of March 26 with a less bearish view than the latest data reflects. 
Speculators flipped back to a bearish stance on Minneapolis-traded spring wheat through March 20. The new managed money net short totals 653 futures and options contracts versus the previous week's net long of 1,240 contracts.
This new bearish position may be short-lived pending trade on Monday and Tuesday. May spring wheat futures were up 1.6 percent on Friday, the contract's largest daily percentage gain in three weeks.
(Editing by Matthew Lewis)