Early Call On Chicago

21/12/11 -- The overnight grains posted modest losses, reversing three to four days of gains with beans down 6-8 cents, corn falling 3-4 cents and wheat down 4-6 cents. Crude oil is steady, although little changed and the US dollar is likewise.

Rain is in the forecast tonight and tomorrow for Argentina, easing traders concerns there, although after tomorrow it's back to dry if at least a little cooler.

The Australian Bureau of Meteorology says that the current la Nina episode is near it's peak and will gradually decline in Q1 of 2012.

Chinese customs data shows Brazil leapfrogging the US as the biggest supplier of soybeans so far in 2011. To the end of November China imported 19.8 MMT of Brazilian beans compared to 18.75 MMT from America.

US shipments to China in November were 2.46 MMT, down 35% on year ago levels.

There's just a week and a half left to go before the US ethanol blenders' tax credit gets removed. Ethanol producers margins have already taken a sharp cut in recent weeks and they're about to have another 45 cents/gallon taken off them.

US hard red winter wheat conditions should have improved from the 13% poor-very poor on November 27, the last report from the USDA, aided by a decent shot of moisture since then.

Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: beans down 6-8 cents, corn down 3-4 cents, wheat down 4-5 cents.