The Lunchtime Lookabout

30/03/11 -- The grain markets are boringly flat, with the overnight Globex beans up 2-4c, corn up 1-3c and wheat down 4-6c. Soybeans are gaining a little on ideas that tomorrow's USDA acreage report will show corn stealing planted area away from beans. European grains are similarly flat.

Crude oil is around half a dollar lower, with Brent at USD114.78/barrel and NYMEX WTI at USD104.25/barrel. Metals are a bit firmer and the dollar is flat.

The USDA are seen increasing the 2011 corn planted area by around 4.5 million acres from last year to around 91.7 million - the second highest since the war. Soybean plantings are seen declining by only around half a million of that 4.5 million corn increase. All wheat acres are seen up a around 0.7 million to 57.3 million.

You will note that this gives us around 4.7 million acres more given over to this trilogy for the 2011 harvest.

Personally I wouldn't be surprised to see the soybean area unchanged or even slightly higher than 2010's 77.4 million acres. If so, it would seem that corn acres would have to come in lower than the current average trade guess.

Where are a combined extra 4.7 million acres of beans, corn and wheat going to come from is another interesting question. In the case of wheat planted acres and harvested ares are two very different things, this season will almost certainly see higher rates of abandonment than normal. So some of these extra acres could come from unharvested wheat, some may come from "fringe" crops like sorghum, but can they find more than four and a half million of them?

Hey, this is the USDA, anything is possible.

On other matters, China sold 475,000 MT of the 4.5 MMT of wheat on offer at this week's government auction. The Russian Ag Ministry say that winter grains are in good condition and that spring plantings are now underway at almost double last year's pace.

The UK, France and Germany get a decent shot at some rain today/tomorrow and again over the weekend, according to the BBC's website.

The USDA have just confirmed 150,000 MT of HRW wheat sold to "unknown" for 2011/12.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: corn up 1-2c, beans up 2-4c, wheat down 3-5c.