eCBOT Close, Early Call, Export Sales

The overnights closed mixed, mostly lower, with beans down around 6 cents, wheat off 3-4 cents and corn up around a cent.

Beans are seen as the most vulnerable leg of the three with ideas that US farmers will plant substantially more of the crop in 2009.

Talk of China cancelling three cargoes of soybeans and switching it's tactics to buying soyoil instead is also seen as bearish beans. Crop concerns for soy in Argentina have also eased.

Corn is getting a little boost from expectations of lower plantings in the US this spring. In addition ideas are that rains in Argentina came a wee bit too late to help corn much.

Also favouring corn at the moment has been Obama speaking of greater use of fuels from renewable sources, plus the fact that weekly exports have been very strong recently, with sales in excess of 1 MMT for the last five weeks running.

Unfortunately that little winning run was brought to an end this afternoon.

Crude oil is up to the dizzy heights of $43.60/barrel following a greater-than-expected fall in U.S. gasoline inventories. Meanwhile, crude oil inventories did not rise as much as expected. OPEC is also expected to drop production by another 1 million barrels per day at its March meeting in an attempt to shore up prices.

Wheat is garnering support from dryness in the US and the outlook for lower world production in 2009. Russia keeps picking up the "big ticket" export sales booking Egypt for 240,000 MT and Syria for 200,000 MT this past week. They are also hot favourites to land a 300,000 MT tender in the market at the moment from Algeria.

In it's usual weekly export sales the USDA reported wheat sales for 08/09 of 465,400MT and 112,500 MT for 09/10. For corn sales were a disappointment at 448,900 MT for this marketing year and 8,100 MT for 09/10. For soybeans net sales were 339,400 MT for 08/09 and 8,300 MT for 09/10.

Wheat sales of 577,900 MT in total were a little above expectations with the main homes being Taiwan (91,800 MT), Nigeria (86,000 MT), unknown destinations (61,500 MT), Yemen (52,800 MT), China (50,000 MT), Mexico (28,100 MT), Japan (25,200 MT), and the Philippines (20,000 MT).

Total corn sales at 457,000 MT were well below expectations of 750,000 to 950,000 MT, with Japan (254,800 MT, including 76,200 MT switched from unknown destinations) and Mexico (88,800 MT) the main homes.

Total net soybean sales of 347,700 MT were also a disappointment compared to expectations of 550,000 to 850,000 MT. Increases for China (339,100 MT, including 165,000 MT switched from unknown destinations), were partially offset by decreases for unknown destinations of 144,500 MT.

Also of note today is talk circulating that the large bad debt provisions made public by FC Stone yesterday, which saw it's shares fall by more than 61%, may see it forced to buy in short hedges in an attempt to protect it's capital base. If true that may provide some support to today's trade.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: July corn called steady to 3 cents lower; July soybeans called 4 to 6 cents lower; July CBOT wheat called 1 to 2 cents lower.