eCBOT Close/Early Call

eCBOT grains traded higher for most of the session, but slipped back late to end around unchanged levels. March wheat finished 1/2c higher at $5.39 1/4; March corn closed down 1 1/4c at $3.65 and March beans finished 1 1/2c lower at $9.57.

Corn and soybean sales were strong in yesterday's USDA weekly export sales report. Korea bought US/South American corn and South American soymeal overnight.

The USDA also reported reasonable sales for wheat on the export front, and talk of severe congestion at Australian ports may push a bit of extra business the way of the US over the next couple of months.

Conflicting reports continue to come out of China, with the government saying that wheat losses to drought are only likely to be 2-2.5%, but other estimates saying that 10-15% of the crop could be lost.

Argentine farmers have said that they will not be striking next week, and are prepared for further discussions with the president in an effort to resolve their dispute. Should talks fail, as they almost inevitably will, then a strike could be back on in March. Still, March is a much nicer month to have a strike don't you think?

There's been a change in the weather forecasts for South America - rain will reach southern growing regions of Argentina Monday with limited moisture but enough to produce some one-half to one-inch amounts, says QT Weather's Allen Motew.

By Tuesday these rains weaken over eastern growing regions but the threat of clouds and some light showers continues. Along with this new rain chance, temperatures average one to four degrees C above normal for the next seven days, he says. Before, by late next week (Friday Feb 20), a cold front cools Argentina bringing some more rain possibilities.

Crude oil is lower again at around $34/barrel as supply just keeps outstripping demand.

The dollar is lower ahead of a Congress vote on the $789 billion economic stimulus bill later today.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: Corn steady to 1 lower; soybeans 1 to 3 lower; wheat steady.