Early Call On Chicago

17/01/12 -- The overnight grains closed higher with beans up around 18 cents, corn up 7-8 cents and wheat 6-9 cents firmer. Crude oil is around two dollars higher, lending support.

Weather in Argentina is the key driver, although decent rains are in the forecast Sunday/Monday that's still 5-6 days away.

The Rosario Grain Exchange have lowered their Argy corn crop estimate to 21.4 MMT from 26 MMT and for soybeans they now say 50.5 MMT from 52 MMT.

The corn harvest is just about underway in southern Brazil, according to Celeres. Yields are expected to be down on drought earlier in the season.

For now the market seems to have shrugged off ratings downgrades for France, Italy, Spain, Portugal, Austria and others and even yesterday the eurozone bailout fund the EFSF itself. Determined to press on S&P's are expected to start downgrading various European banks as soon as today.

ECB President "Super" Mario Draghi says that the situation in Europe is "a very grave state of affairs."

Greece is running out of time, and it seems determination, to get her act together. Contingency plans are doubtless being made behind the scenes in other European countries if indeed she does default in March.

The NOPA December US soybean crush came in 145.45 million bushels, up a little over 4 million on November and higher than trade estimates of 140.8 million.

China's fourth quarter GDP grew by 8.9% - a very decent performance by most standards, but in fact the slowest pace in two years. Half full or half empty?

It looks like fund money will be looking to get back into grains today following another dry weekend in Argentina. Early calls for this afternoon's CBOT session: beans 15-20 cents higher, corn up 6-8 cents, wheat up 7-9 cents.