Early Call On CBOT

The overnight markets closed narrowly mixed with wheat and corn mostly 1-2 cents lower and soybeans 1/4 lower to 1 3/4 higher.

Crude oil is down again, with expiring front month June USD2.13 lower at USD67.34/barrel. The dollar continues to show strength as European debt worries prompt a flight to safety.

Weekly export sales from the USDA were bullish for corn and neutral for beans and wheat. China was confirmed as buying both old and new crop corn, and total sales cam in in excess of 1.5 MMT.

It seems highly unlikely to me that this week's Chinese sales will be the last of their kind, and it also seems hugely significant that they are now buying new crop as well as old crop.

The only thing that seems to be holding back a flood of further buying is the delay in obtaining import permits. If the Chinese government's concern is food price inflation, then allowing further imports of corn in significant volumes seems like a sensible measure to allow.

China also bought old and new crop soybeans.

The US weather forecast looks largely conducive for further progress with corn and soybean plantings.

"Increasing heat and sunshine will rapidly dry out soggy fields. Maximum temperatures are expected rise into the mid and upper 80s F on Sunday and Monday. Accompanying winds will encourage very rapid drying. Abundant sunshine with warm temperatures will spur rapid germination in soybeans," says Gail Martell of Martell Crop Projections.

"Strong thunderstorms in the Southern Plains improved field moisture for heading wheat in Kansas and Oklahoma. Severe damage has occurred with golf ball sized hail and damaging winds, however," warns Gail.

Crop conditions fell in Kansas and Oklahoma this week, quite sharply in the latter state, and there is plenty of talk of disease problems affecting Kansas wheat in particular. It seems that yields may potentially disappoint here.

The strong dollar will of course hamper US export ambitions, particularly for wheat, and the Black Sea countries will be eager to exchange their wheat for cash as soon as they can once the harvest starts. Lack of adequate storage will also force a few hands amongst the usual suspects.

South Korea bought 67,100 MT of US wheat overnight. Japan bought 147,000 MT in its normal weekly tender with 85,000 MT being US origin.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: beans mixed, corn flat to 2 higher, wheat 1 to 2 lower.