CBOT Early Call

The overnight grains closed slightly firmer helped by a weaker dollar and modestly higher crude oil. Beans finished with gains of 4-5 cents, whist wheat was 1-2 cents firmer and corn up fractions of a cent.

With last week's stocks and WASDE reports from the USDA out of the way, there's a distinct lack of direction ahead of the March 31st planting intentions report.

US weather is improving, with Chicago having a shot at reaching 70F at the end of the week, that's a big step forward on a high of just 48F on Monday. With this rapid warm up also comes the risk of snowmelt and flooding further west.

"Flooding will reach just below record levels in the Red River Basin of North Dakota late this week," say QT Weather.

Japan is shopping for 136,000 MT of wheat again this week, with 90,000 MT of that US origin. Apart from these routine orders however then US is struggling to pick up many "surprise" orders. Yesterday's export inspections report was less than half the previous weeks 21 million bushels.

Crops prospects in Ukraine seem to be declining although the full picture is far from clear yet. Grain stocks are around 20% down on a year ago, and exports are starting to fall away quite rapidly.

Not that that will be bothering the likes of Russia and Kazakhstan. The former being the likely favourite to fill most of Iraq's current wheat tender. The Kazakhs meanwhile are busy forging new relationships with Asia.

With the Brazilian soybean harvest now past halfway, and Argentina just coming onto tap, logistical problems are the best hope the US has of picking up some extra business. With truckers reportedly queuing for up to 25km to get to rail terminals in Brazil, and vessel loading delays already emerging, there might be a small window of opportunity. Especially if strike rumours in Argentina's Rosario port prove to be accurate.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn and wheat called steady to 2 higher; soybeans called 2 to 4 higher.