Early Call On Chicago

19/12/11 -- The overnight grains posted decent gains to build on Friday night's advances with beans up 15-17 cents, corn 10-12 cents higher and wheat adding 8-10 cents. Crude oil is around half a dollar firmer, although it's still around USD6/barrel down on a week ago.

The market seems to be buying into the building weather story in South America, even though there is rain in the forecast for most of the troubled areas a week from now.

European woes appear to have been put on the back burner for now. Short-covering, profit-taking and year-end book squaring all look likely to feature this week.

There's a near record fund short on CBOT wheat and the smallest fund long on corn for 17 months. Indeed, "non-commercial investors" have cut their corn length from over 350,000 contracts back in February to just 50,000 lots as of last Tuesday, according to Agrimoney.com.

There has been some talk over what the implications may be, if any, of the death of North Korea's Kim Jong-il. Unrest and rising tensions in the region? Or maybe they'd like to forge a closer relationship with the west, and buy some grain? Probably neither.

Reports that they test-fired a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan this morning initially raised a few eyebrows but is now being played down as a routine event and of no significance.

A US winter storm will today see rain and snow become steadier and heavier this morning across northern Texas, Oklahoma and southern Kansas, which will be beneficial for winter wheat in the region.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: Beans up 15 to 20 cents, corn up 10 to 15 cents, and wheat up 5 to 10 cents.