Early Call On Chicago

02/02/11 -- The overnight grains closed higher, with wheat leading the way up around 12-14c. Beans were around 6-8c higher and corn up 5c or so.

Outside markets are all lending support to grains, with metals, sugar and crude oil all hitting multi-year, if not record, highs.

The dock workers strike in Argentina may drag on and off for some time yet in shades reminiscent of a couple of years ago. Unlike then, now we only have one of the Kirchners in control, and she is seen firmly digging her six inch stiletto heels in for fear of showing any signs of weakness.

Her presidency is already on very shaky ground, and there are elections due in October.

Breaking news suggests that the workers will call off their strike following a government order making the action unlawful. It seems highly unlikely to me that this will be the last word on the matter. Certainly against this kind of backdrop Argentina is not going to be topping may people's "preferred seller of choice" list.

That potentially pushes more interest they way of the US.

To add further unease to the markets we have the ongoing Egyptian unrest, a severe winter storm in the US and now a massive cyclone almost the size of America heading for Australia. On top of that it's hardly rained in Northern China since September.

Effectively all this is creating a huge cocktail of uncertainty and nervousness. The dollar is weaker too, helping propel overnight corn and beans to 30-month highs.

Despite New Year celebrations China has bought 440,000 MT of US beans overnight, according to the USDA.

The wintry conditions in the US will delay the opening of CBOT pit trading until 10 am local time, or 4 pm here in the UK I understand. So trade could be a bit thin.

Informa are out at 10.30 am local time with revised world crop production numbers.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: Beans up 7 to 9 cent, corn up 4 to 6 cents and wheat up 13 to 15 cents