Fed rate cuts push up maize, soya, wheat & copper

Written by Commodities Bureau | Agencies | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 18 2008, 06:37am hrs
Prices of grains, soybeans, copper and gold rose on Wednesday in the international markets as the US dollar tumbled after the Federal Reserve slashed key interest rates to near zero to boost spending.

Some concerns over lower crop planting in the US and dry weather in South America also kept sentiments firm.

However, analysts warned that the latest gain in some commodities, mainly in base metals, could be limited because of fears of reduced demand following the global economic meltdown.

The US dollar tumbled versus the euro and the yen after the Fed cut rates to zero to 0.25%, making US priced commodities cheaper for offshore buyers. Memphis-based research firm Informa Economics on Friday estimated 2009 US corn acreage at 82.288 million, down sharply from 85.9 million planted this year, due to lessening demand for corn for use in ethanol production.

Front-month Chicago Board of Trade maize had risen 1.65% to $4.01 per bushel by 1115 GMT 4.45 pm IST), after rising 5% the previous day.

Maize has gained more than one-third since it fell below $3 a bushel on December 5, its weakest level in two years.

Soybeans for January rose 1.54% to $8.71-3/4, after gaining 2% on Tuesday. Wheat for March delivery gained 1.7% to $5.53-1/4, also boosted by the slumping dollar. Saudi Arabia, previously self-sufficient in wheat, is tendering for 500,000 tonne of milling wheat on Wednesday, providing additional support for wheat prices.

In base metals, copper rose on weak dollar, but gains were capped by persistent worries about the effect the global economic slowdown is having on demand. Copper for three-month delivery on the London metal Exchange rose 2.0% to a high of $3,140 a tonne from 3,077 a tonne on Tuesday. At 4.21 pm IST, it traded at $3,100. But many analysts said recent weak macro economic data has heightened concerns about demand for industrial metals, which are used widely in cars, construction and power.

The macro environment is deteriorating fast. We expect car demand to drop by 12% for each of the next three quarters in Europe, Deutsche Bank said in a note.