The Morning Vibe

09/02/12 -- The overnight grains are flat to slightly firmer in what looks likely to be a subdued session ahead of the eagerly awaited USDA numbers this afternoon.

I've given up trying to predict what estimates the USDA will come out with, but there is certainly a possibility that the numbers will surprise.

In the February report last year, out of interest, they slashed US corn ending stocks by far more than the trade had been anticipating (to 675 million bushels) driving front month March 11 up above USD7/bushel for the first time in more than 30 months.

US corn stocks to use then came in at 5%, the lowest since 1936/37. World corn ending stocks were also cut to 122.5 MMT - a 37-year low.

Last month they did the diametric opposite, placing 2011/12 US corn ending stocks around 100 million bushels higher than expected at 846 million and the market closed limit down.

Maybe today's shock will be everything coming in bang on expectations! We can only wait and see. It's fair to say that by now nobody underestimates their capacity to surprise.

Also not surprising us this morning is news that the Greek PM and his coalition buddies didn't manage to thrash out an agreement on austerity acceptable to all sides. So that particular cheese and pickle laden meeting table broke up, only for our sandwich guzzling hero, Lucas Papademos, to go straight into another meeting with with officials from the "troika" EU/ECB and IMF. As the troika are more important there were probably a few prawns on offer at this one, almost certainly some thinly sliced ham and maybe even a bit of pork pie and a few crisps.

EUR600 million worth of pension cuts seems to be the main sticking point. There are some reports this morning that the troika has given them another 15 days to find a way of making these cuts elsewhere. And so the whole sorry charade stumbles on.