Overnight Markets - What's New?

The overnight markets are sharply higher for some reason, although none of the factors being talked about are especially fresh news.

Beans are 26-28c firmer, with corn 6c higher and wheat up around 8c.

Soybean export sales reported yesterday were solid at 529,700 MT for 2008/09, with China taking the lion's share at 444,500 MT, including 110,000 MT switched from unknown destinations. There is some talk this morning that they may have bought another 120,000 overnight.

Forecasters opinions are divided on exactly how much rain is going to reach the right places in South America over the weekend. And after months of dry weather how much benefit will they derive? Conab cut it's soybean and corn estimates for Brazil quite sharply yesterday, and warned of possible further cuts to come in February.

Traders seem nervous ahead of Monday's USDA report. Again it's not particularly fresh news, but the final 2008 US corn and soybean production numbers are expected to be revised downwards slightly. In addition the first USDA estimates for winter wheat plantings are expected to show a drop of around 4.5% to a tad over 44m acres.

Crude oil seems to have stopped the rot for the time being, after falling heavily on Wednesday on surging US stocks. Saudi Arabia said it has sent notices to refiners in Japan and Taiwan that it was cutting shipments for February by 10 percent in accordance with OPEC's recently announced cuts. Crude is flat around $42/barrel this morning.

The dollar is under pressure ahead of this afternoon's payrolls data which will likely show that the economy lost jobs every month in 2008 and the unemployment rate now stands at a 16-year high. The pound is at $1.5245.