eCBOT Close, Early Call

The overnight grains closed flat to a tad lower, with beans around unchanged, corn 2 cents or so lower and wheat down 3-4 cents.

Crude oil is a bit easier, as it has been every day this week, just under USD79/barrel. The dollar is flat, bang on 1.63 against the pound.

Index funds are said to have bought almost 20,000 corn contracts in the last five minutes of trading last night, and nobody scarcely noticed.

More scary is the news that their "rebalancing act" is now just about over, heavily overshadowed by some stunningly bearish USDA pontifications.

Jan soybeans expired last night at USD9.68 ½, 44 ½ cents down since last Friday. March corn closed last night at USD3.81, 42 cents lower on the week and March wheat ended last night's session at USD5.27 ¾, down 40 ¾ on the week so far.

Have you spotted the trend yet?

China say that they will import around 4.5 MMT of soybeans in January, not quite as much as December but a pretty impressive number nonetheless. This could be a bit of a last chance saloon for the US, as the shops are about to open in South America very, very soon. And boy, are they going to have the Mother of all sales, Gucci handbags for a fiver with a free cargo of soybeans thrown in.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn called 1 to 2 lower; soybeans called 1 to 2 higher; wheat called 2 to 3 lower.