eCBOT Close, Early Call

eCBOT grains closed with little change Friday, beans were around 1-3 cents lower, with corn down 1-2 cents and wheat around unchanged.

China keeps coming back for more US beans, with the USDA confirming another week of solid export sales yesterday.

Latest figures from the Chinese Ministry of Commerce show that they took the best part of 4 MMT of imported soybeans in March, and are set to take similar amounts in April and May.

The March figure of 3.86 MMT is up 67% on year ago levels. Given the magnitude of these figures, and the ongoing problems with both production and the threat of supply disruptions from Argentina, old crop US levels should remain steady for the time being.

The Buenos Aires Grain Exchange cut its estimate for the 2009 soybean crop there to 36.2 MMT yesterday, from 37 MMT a week ago. That means that they have now lopped 3.2 MMT off Argy output in the last fortnight.

Wet weather is seen delaying corn and spring wheat plantings in the US, which is supportive for those products, but possibly ultimately bearish for new crop beans.

Crude oil is back up above the $50/barrel mark, despite huge US inventories.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: Corn futures expected to open 1 to 2 lower; soybeans 1 to 3 lower; wheat steady to 1 higher.