By Joanna Levin

FOLLOWING a volatile week, the US corn (maize) market managed a small rally in the days leading up to the Labor Day holiday. The troubled grain market rebounded on the back of a recovery in the US stock market, which improved sentiment on the Chicago Board of Trade.

The Chicago December futures contract closed on Friday 4 September at 208.0¢/bushel. This was unchanged from the day before but up from the low of 196.0¢/bushel experienced during trading on Tuesday 2 September.

Traders last week were encouraged by healthy export figures which suggest that the strong US dollar and global economic fears have not yet affected the international consumption of US maize.

For the week ended 27 August, the US exported 8.6 million bushels of old crop maize and 34.4 million bushels of new crop, ahead of expectations.

However, analysts warn that the recovery in maize prices could be short-lived given this years exceptional harvest prospects. According to the latest USDA survey, 69% of the maize crop is rated good to excellent, 22% fair and only 9% poor to very poor.

Given the losses being suffered in the livestock industry, maize needs to remain affordable for US livestock producers if maize farmers can hope to shift their bumper harvest.

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