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eCBOT futures closed mostly higher Thursday, as traders squared positions ahead of this afternoon's USDA S&D report.

No huge surprises are anticipated with wheat and soybean ending stocks lowered slightly and corn stocks rising due to slow exports and slack ethanol demand.

The dollar has been under pressure throughout the morning on ideas that the US auto industry bailout is far from a done deal. And even if it does get past the Senate that's another $14 bln for starters on the budget deficit. On top of that the Fed are expected to cut rates to 0.5% Tuesday, significantly lower than the dizzy heights of 2-2.5% here in Europe.

Even the pound is having a half decent day against the dollar rising to $1.4916, having earlier peaked just shy of the $1.50 mark at $1.4996.

The weak dollar is therefore also supporting the grains complex, as it should make exports more competitive.

Crude is steadier, another supportive influence, $2 firmer at $45.52/barrel ahead of next week's OPEC meeting where production cuts of 2-3m bpd are expected to be announced.

Japan and South Korea have both bought wheat in routine this week, with the latter also buying corn. That aside, international activity remains quiet in the run-up to Christmas.

There isn't much point posting an early call ahead of the USDA numbers due at 13.30 GMT.