Cotton, Corn, Wheat Pop on Egypt Violence


NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Cotton prices for March delivery were climbing as concerns about the ability of a key exporter to ship the goods at previous levels of volume and efficiency remained in question.

Violence in Egypt continued on Monday as mobs of inflamed demonstrators sought to topple the 30-year-reign of president Hosni Mubarak. Although Mubarak has appointed a new cabinet, it has done little to pacify the mobs in the context of high food and energy prices.

Moody's on Monday took Egypt's below-investment grade sovereign bond ratings down by one notch to Ba2 from Ba1 and revised its outlook to negative from stable, citing political instability.

Cotton prices for March delivery rose about 3.62 cents to $1.68 a pound around midday Monday, after hitting a record-high last week.

The Dow Jones-UBS Cotton Subindex Total Return ( BAL) rose 1.9% to $85.36 in midday trading, as top cotton-product producers and sellers gained ground. Hanesbrands ( HBI) was higher by 3.1% to $23.23, while Maidenform Brands ( MFB) rose 0.9% to $25.57. Limited Brands ( LTD) was up 0.2% to $28.98.

The strength in cotton prices reflects concerns over supply constraints amid voracious China demand driven by a vigorous domestic retail market. Speculative demand for the commodity also drove prices up.

Wheat prices rebounded after taking a dive Friday amid worries of total government collapse in Egypt the following week. However, the market largely believes that the country will be importing more wheat soon to help pacify the angry masses.

The rebound was also driven by buyers and speculators lured into the market by the dip earlier.

Wheat prices for March delivery rose 20 cents to $8.45 3/4 a bushel Monday.

The market expects Egypt's grain-buying unit to tender for wheat soon even though the unit's already said that it has a six-month supply of the grain.

Corn rose in sympathy with wheat, up 10 3/4 cents to $6.54 3/4 a bushel.

Both corn and wheat prices hit two-year highs in January.

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