Early Call On Chicago

24/02/11 -- The overnight grains were lower with wheat down around 4-6c, corn around 2-3c easier and beans falling 9-11c.

Crude is higher again, although well off intraday highs, with NYMEX up USD2/barrel and Brent up USD3/barrel. Saudi Arabia has said that it can make up for any shortfall in production from Libya if necessary.

The USDA Outlook Forum is underway, and they are pegging corn area at 92m acres, with bean plantings at a record 78m acres, both are around half a million higher than the average trade estimate.

Both are in line with last month's baseline estimates. Also unchanged was the wheat area at 57m acres, although they dropped the harvested area by a million in light of the relatively poor over-wintering of the US crop.

The IGC increased it's world 2010/11 wheat crop estimate by a million to 648 MMT today. Output in 2011/12 is seen rising 24 MMT, or 3.7%, to 672 MMT.

It looks like this afternoon could easily go either way, although early calls are lower in line with the overnight session and anticipated further fund liquidation. Odd that funds pulling away can cause the market to fall so dramatically when their presence in the market has nothing to do with high prices, according to some.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn down 2-3c, wheat down 4-6c, beans down 8-10c.