Early Call On Chicago

17/03/11 -- The overnight grains closed higher in a rebound from recent steep losses with beans and wheat up around 20c and corn around 14-17c firmer.

NYMEX crude is back up above USD100/barrel, showing a USD2.40/barrel advance on the day.

Weekly export sales from the USDA were poor for beans at a combined 214,500 MT as demand switches to South America. China bought just the one cargo of new crop this week. Corn sales were strong again though at over 1.3 MMT and wheat sales also topped 1 MMT.

Allendale peg US corn acres at 91.3 million this year, 0.7 million lower that the USDA said last month. Bean plantings are also seen lower than the USDA said at 77.2 million, whilst the wheat area is higher at 57.4 million.

Massive fund liquidation, particularly in old crop corn, seems to be over for now although events in Japan and the Middle East could change that at any moment.

Confusion still reigns over the Japanese situation with conflicting media reports saying that disruption to grain shipments are anything from minimal to acute! A report on Dow Jones Newswires today says that "the affected area and extent of damage at ports are turning out to be much larger than provisional estimates" and that 7.8 MMT of compound feed, which is almost a third of national output, "is produced in the areas around four ports that have been badly affected by the catastrophe."

China sold 1.3 MMT of wheat at this week's government auction, demand certainly seems to be picking up there in this past few weeks.

Some news reports are talking of Asian buyers "snapping up" corn and wheat, encouraged by the recent dip in prices, although none of these orders look to be anything particularly out of the ordinary.

The USDA has confirmed 110,000 MT of corn sold to "unknown" today for the 2010/11 crop year.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: beans up 20-25c, wheat up 18-20c, corn up 13-15c.